A technically skilled trumpeter with an appealing tone, Jimmy Maxwell was a valuable player both in swing settings and in the studios. Maxwell began playing cornet early; one of his teachers in the 1930s was Herbert L. Clarke, with whom he studied for two years. He was a professional from the time he was 15, playing with Gil Evans from 1933-34. Maxwell's early experiences included associations with Jimmy Dorsey (1936), Maxine Sullivan and Skinnay Ennis, but he became best-known in the jazz world for his work with Benny Goodman (1939-43 and occasionally in later years, including his 1962 tour of the Soviet Union). In 1943, Maxwell became a studio musician, at first for CBS. Among his many jobs were playing for The Perry Como Show (1945-63) and for Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show (1963-73). He had occasional opportunities to play jazz (mostly substituting with big bands) including with Woody Herman (1958), Count Basie, Duke Ellington (on several brief occasions including a couple months in 1973), Oliver Nelson, Gerry Mulligan, the New York Jazz Repertory Company and Chuck Israel's National Jazz Ensemble. Maxwell also worked as a music teacher starting in 1950. In later years he appeared with many Dixieland and swing bands, including Dick Sudhalter's New California Ramblers. Maxwell finally had an opportunity to lead an album of his own in 1977 for Circle, and it is a very good one. Maxwell stopped performing at the end of his life, but continued to give lessons until about a year before his death on July 20, 2002.
- by Scott Yanow
All Music Group