Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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A native of Oklahoma City, jazz artist Bernard "Step-Buddy"Anderson was born into a musical family. His older brother, also a jazz fan, played alto sax. Anderson was introduced to various brass instruments, especially the bugle, while a member of the Boy Scouts. He began taking violin lessons at the age of seven. Zelia M. Breaux, noted Oklahoma City music teacher, inspired Anderson. He was a member of the Douglas High School marching and jazz bands under the Breaux's leadership. In 1934, in one of his first professional opportunities, Anderson played with the Ted Armstrong band in Clinton, Oklahoma. In the late 1930s he was a member of the Xavier University jazz band in New Orleans.

In 1939 Anderson returned to Oklahoma City and joined the Leslie Sheffield band that included Charlie Christian and Hank Bridges. The next year he left Oklahoma for the Kansas City jazz scene and became trumpeter for the Jay McShann band. Nationally known by 1942, McShann's band included several widely touted instrumentalists, including Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. Anderson remained with McShann until the World War II draft broke up the group. He then moved from one band to another before joining the Billy Eckstine Orchestra in 1944. Shortly thereafter, Anderson contacted tuberculosis and returned to Oklahoma City. After recovery from the disease, he was medically advised to abandon the trumpet and switched to piano. Anderson influenced numerous jazz trumpeters, including Dizzy Gillispie and Fats Navarro. Like many Oklahoma-born jazz artists, Buddy Anderson is another obscure but important figure in the evolution of modern jazz styles.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: George Hoefer, "Buddy Anderson," Down Beat 30 (19 December 1963). Nathan W. Pearson, Jr., Goin' to Kansas City (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987). Ross Russell, Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971).

George O. Carney.

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