Trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, a master jazz accompanist for singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, died July 27 at his home in Columbus, Ohio, after a 14-year battle with cancer. He was 83.
Edison began his professional career as a featured soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra, which he joined when he was 18. Basie saxophonist Lester Young dubbed him “Sweets” because of the pleasing tone of his horn playing.
Edison stayed with Basie’s big band until about 1950 before heading off to perform with his own quintet. Along with recording his own albums, notably “Sweets for the Sweet Taste of Love,” he accompanied Sinatra as a studio musician and worked with Benny Carter on a movie soundtrack.
At one time or another, he played with most of the famous big bands, including those of Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Louis Bellson, Henry Mancini and Nelson Riddle.
Other credits include the “Hollywood Palace” TV show during the 1960s and the 1944 short film, “Jammin’ the Blues,” which received an Oscar nomination.
Edison toured Europe in the late 1970s and ’80s, often with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. He taught music seminars at Yale in the Duke Ellington Fellowship Program, and was honored as a “master musician” with a 1991 National Endowment for the Arts Award at the Kennedy Center.
He is survived by a daughter.