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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jazz Trumpet Legend Plays His Last Note

Harry "Sweets'' Edison, a master of the jazz trumpet who was a mainstay of the Count Basie band, died Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. He was 83.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, Edison had that rarest of qualities: an utterly individual style. One of the riffs associated with Edison usually began with eight repeated notes followed by a slithery descending line.

In his last appearances in Los Angeles, Edison still retained his characteristic individuality, his ineffable sense of swing and his familiar licks.

Edison began playing trumpet in Columbus, going professional at 18 with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra in Cleveland and St. Louis. Eventually he became part of the Basie band, where he stayed as a soloist and orchestrator until the unit was disbanded in 1950.

During that decade, he toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic, was musical director for entertainer Josephine Baker and traveled to Europe and South America with Buddy Rich. He also started working for Nelson Riddle and recording albums with his top client, Frank Sinatra.

Edison worked right up until last month.

"I've been blessed because I've never been out of work, and I've used my talent the best I could," he once told the Los Angeles Times. "The type of musician today making all the big money - well, he can't be everywhere. I'll play where he isn't. The way I feel, someone always is going to hire Sweets.''