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Detroit Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave Dies at 78

From Ray Charles’ band to beloved jazz educator

Marcus Belgrave
Marcus Belgrave

Marcus Belgrave, a Detroit-based trumpeter whose career stretched back to the 1950s, died May 24, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Belgrave had been hospitalized since April with complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. He was 78.

Born June 12, 1936 in Chester, Pa., Belgrave began playing trumpet at age 6. At age 12 he played in a band that also included Clifford Brown, who had not yet become a well known jazz artist. Belgrave himself first became known nationally at age 21 as a member of Ray Charles’ orchestra, appearing on many of Charles’ hit recordings. Belgrave moved to New York in the early 1960s, working with Charles Mingus, Yusef Lateef, Eric Dolphy and Max Roach, among others. In 1963, he relocated to Detroit where he joined the Motown company as a staff trumpeter, playing on records by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Martha and the Vandellas, as well as many other Motown acts.

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