Trombonist from Mobile, Alabama, who started performing with Tommy Reynolds and his band when he was only sixteen years old. When he was twenty-four, he joined Woody Herman’s band, the Thundering Herd. He was voted New Star by the Down Beat International Critics in 1954.
By now, he was a star, releasing albums under his own name, such as A Cool Yuletide, Urbie Green and His Band, and Urbie Green Septet. He appeared in The Benny Goodman Story and was featured on the accompanying soundtrack. In 1955, he released East Coast Jazz, Vol. 6. This was followed up by All About Urbie Green and Blues and Other Shades of Green in 1956. In 1957, he unveiled Best of the New Broadway Show Hits. Two more Urbie albums hit the shelves in 1958: Jimmy McHugh in Hi-Fi and Let’s Face the Music and Dance. In 1959, he appeared The Great Wide World of Q. Jones.
He played trombone on Ray Bryant’s Madison Time, Al Cohn’s Son of Drum Suite, Perry Como’s “While We’re Young”, Dizzy Gillespie’s Gillespiana, The Persuasive Trombone of Urbie Green, Woody Herman’s Big New Herd at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and Blue Mitchell’s Smooth as the Wind in 1960.
In 1961, he appeared on Genius + Soul = Jazz by Ray Charles, For the Young at Heart, Sing to Me Mr. C and “You Were Meant For Me” by Perry Como, Perceptions by Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin’s White Gardenia, Gene Krupa’s Percussion King, Manny Albam and His Orchestra, and the four-volume Overture, American Music Theatre series.
He performed on Listen to Art Farmer, The Persuasive Trombone of Urbie Green Volume 2, Full Nelson by Oliver Nelson, and Bashin’ – The Unpredictable Jimmy Smith in 1962. In 1963, he blew trombone on Count Basie’s Basie Land, Li’l Ol’ Groovemaker… Basie!, and More Hits of the 50’s and 60’s, Urbie Green and His 6-Tet, J.J. Johnson’s J.J.’s Broadway, Jimmy Smith’s Hobo Flats, Cal Tjader’s Several Shades of Jade, and Joe Williams’ Jump for Joy and Me and the Blues.
He was a part of The Definitive Jazz Scene Volume 2, The Shadow of Your Smile by Astrud Gilberto, Quincy Jones Explores the Music of Henry Mancini, Movin’ Wes by Wes Montgomery, New Fantasy by Lalo Schifrin, Great Scott!! by Shirley Scott, and The Cat by Jimmy Smith in 1964. In 1965, he appeared on the following albums: Ray Brown/Milt Jackson; Quincy’s Got a Brand New Bag by Quincy Jones; Room for One More by Irene Reid; and, Wrapped Tight by Coleman Hawkins.
He performed on de Sade by Lalo Schifrin, Dirty Dog by Kai Winding, Ella Fitzgerald’s eponymous album, Rain Forest by Walter Wanderley, and Sonny by Sonny Stitt in 1966. In 1967, he played on Beach Samba by Astrud Gilberto, The Best of Jimmy Smith, Blues – The Common Ground by Kenny Burrell, 21 Trombones, and Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim. He appeared on Paul Desmond’s Summertime in 1968. In 1969, he reunited with Kenny Burrell on Night Song and was one of the artists included on Soul ’69.
He rejoined Antonio Carlos Jobim for Stone Flower in 1970. In 1971, he released Green Power and followed it up with Bein’ Green in 1972. He has the honour of having appeared on an album with one of the longest titles in history, 1973’s The Dissection and Reconstruction of Music from the Past as Performed by the Inmates of Lalo Schifrin’s Demented Ensemble as a Tribute to the Memory of the Marquis de Sade.
In 1974, he collaborated with Deodato on Whirlwinds and Bill Evans on Symbiosis. He boarded the disco train in 1975 on The Disco Disque, Faith, Hope & Charity, and Disco Baby by Van McCoy. In 1976, he released The Fox and was in the horns section for three Van McCoy albums: African Symphony, The Real McCoy, and Rhythms of the World. He played trombone on his own Senor Blues, Quincy Jones’ self-titled album, Van McCoy and His Magnificent Movie Machine, Peaches & Herb, Lalo Schifrin’s Towering Toccata, and Stanley Turrentine’s Nightwings in 1977.
In 1978, he appeared on Ray Charles’ eponymous album, Live at Rick’s Café Americain, Van McCoy’s My Favourite Fantasy, and Zulema’s Z-licious. He performed live with the Bubba Kolb Trio at Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and performed on Ron Carter’s Parade, The Charlie Calello Orchestra’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”/”In the Mood”, Bobby Hutcherson’s Conception: The Gift of Love, and Bette Midler’s Thighs and Whispers in 1979.
In the 1980s, he appeared on Casa Forte by Helen Merrill, L.A. is My Lady by Frank Sinatra, and his own album, The Message. As the CD era encroached, his credits were relegated mostly to re-masterings and re-packagings, although he did release Sea Jam Blues in 1995. Also in 1995 he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
In 2006, he celebrated his 80th birthday in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, as part of their Celebration of the Arts Festival and continued to perform there live every year.
He died in Hellertown, Pennsylvania in 2018 when he was 92 years old.
Van McCoy recordings
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
That’s the Joint (Richard Harris/Van McCoy)
Here he is performing “Stardust”…