Edgar Sampson


Edgar Melvin Sampson (October 31, 1907 – January 16, 1973), nicknamed "The Lamb", was an American jazz composer, arranger, saxophonist, and violinist. Born in New York City, he started playing violin at age six and picked up the saxophone in high school. He worked as an arranger and composer for many jazz bands in the 1930s and '40s, his most notable composition being "Stompin' at the Savoy".

Life and career

Born Edgar Melvin Sampson in 1907, Sampson started his professional career in 1924 with a violin piano duo with Joe Colman. Through the rest of the twenties and early thirties he played with many bands including those of Charlie "Fess" Johnson, Duke Ellington, Rex Stewart and Fletcher Henderson. In 1933 he joined the Chick Webb band. It is while with Webb that Sampson created his most enduring work as a composer, writing "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Don't Be That Way". He left the Webb band in 1936 with a reputation as a composer and arranger that led to freelance work with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Red Norvo, Teddy Hill, Teddy Wilson and Chick Webb.

Edgar Sampson became a student of the Schillinger System in the early 1940s. He continued to play sax through the late forties and started his own band (1949-1951). In the late forties through the fifties he worked with Latin performers such as Marcelino Guerra, Tito Rodríguez and Tito Puente as an arranger. He recorded one album under his own name, Swing Softly Sweet Sampson in 1956. Due to illness, he stopped working in the late sixties.

His daughter, Grace Sampson, also studied music and co-wrote the standard "Mambo Inn" with Mario Bauzá and Bobby Woodlen.

Compositions and arrangements

  • "Dark Rapture" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Manny Kurtz)
  • "If Dreams Come True" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Irving Mills)
  • "Lullaby in Rhythm" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Clarence Profit, Walter Hirsch)
  • "Stompin' at the Savoy" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, Andy Razaf)
  • "Hoopdee Whodee (Edgar Sampson)
  • "I'll Be Back for More" (Edgar Sampson, Candido Camero, Sammy Gallop)
  • "Happy and Satisfied" (Edgar Sampson, Walter Bishop)
  • "Cool and Groovy" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Blue Lou" (Edgar Sampson, Irving Mills)
  • "The Blues Made Me Feel This Way" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Light and Sweet" (Edgar Sampson, Bill Hardy)
  • "The Sweetness of You" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Don't Be That Way" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Mitchell Parish)

(Source: Liner notes from "Swing Softly Sweet Sampson" Coral Record CRL 57049 (1957)

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