Wright, Lammar (ca. 1905–1973)

By: Dave Oliphant

Type: Biography

Published: December 11, 2006

Updated: October 16, 2015

Lammar Wright, cornet and trumpet player, was born in Texarkana, Texas, on June 20, 1905 or 1907. Wright attended Lincoln High School in Kansas City. By 1923 he was a member of the Kansas City band of Bennie Moten, which recorded for the OKeh company in that first significant year of jazz recording. Influenced by the great New Orleans trumpeter Joe "King" Oliver, Wright has been praised as the "best player" in the Moten band. His style has been described as full of searing, stabbing immediacy.

Wright remained with Moten until 1927, after which he joined the Missourians, a group that had been featured at the Cotton Club in New York. Between 1928 and 1930 Wright recorded with the Missourians. In 1930 the band was taken over by singer Cab Calloway. Continuing with Calloway as the lead trumpet in the vocalist's very popular orchestra, Wright performed a number of outstanding solos and remained with Calloway until January 1940. He subsequently performed with a number of other groups, including Don Redman, Claude Hopkins, Cootie Williams, Lucky Millinder, Sy Oliver, and the George Shearing big band.

Both of Wright's sons, Lamar, Jr., and Elmon, were members of the Dizzy Gillespie big band in the late 1940s. Lammar Wright worked as a teacher and studio musician in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared in the film The Night They Raided Minsky's in 1968. He died in New York City on April 13, 1973.

John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, 4th ed. (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985). Barry Kernfeld, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2d edition (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2002). Ross Russell, Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968).


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dave Oliphant, “Wright, Lammar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wright-lammar.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 11, 2006
October 16, 2015

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