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Trumpeter Webster Young Dies

Webster Young, a trumpeter who worked with John Coltrane and Ike and Tina Turner, died Dec. 13 at a hospice in Vancouver, Wash. of a brain tumor. He was 71.

Though Young never made a huge name for himself in jazz and led very few recording sessions in his career, he rubbed shoulders with a number of jazz heavyweights. The Columbia, S.C.-born Young frequented the local jazz clubs while growing up in Washington, D.C. and once convinced Louis Armstrong to give him a trumpet lesson after Satchmo had played a show at the Howard Theatre. At some point thereafter he won the friendship and respect of Miles Davis, who in the late 1950s told a 20-something Young to move from his hometown and make a go of it in New York City’s vibrant jazz scene. Young took Davis’ advice and while in the Apple did sessions with Lester Young, Jackie McLean and Bud Powell, as well as his own leader date, which yielded the 1957 Prestige LP For Lady, a tribute to Billie Holiday that featured pianist Mal Waldron and drummer Ed Thigpen, among others. (That album is now available on CD via Original Jazz Classics.) Young also appears on the John Coltrane Prestige album Interplay for Two Trumpets and Two Tenors alongside players like guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and Waldron.

Before moving back to Washington in the mid-’60s Young toured the country and had the opportunity to play with Dexter Gordon. He also spent time in saxophonist Jerry Coker’s big band and served as musical director and arranger for Ike and Tina Turner for a short time in Canada. When he returned to Washington Young continued to play in the city’s jazz clubs and began educating locally as well. He moved to Portland, Ore. in 2002.

Young is survived by his wife of 38 years, Gretchen Isenhart Young, and three children.

Originally Published