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Anderson, Bernard "Step Buddy" Hartwell, 1919 - 1997



  • Existence: 1919 - May 10, 1997
  • Existence: 1919 - 1997-05-10


A native of Oklahoma City, jazz artist Bernard "Step Buddy" Anderson (b. 1919) was born into a musical family. His older brother, also a jazz fan, played alto sax. Anderson was introduced to various brass instruments, especially the bugle, while a member of the Boy Scouts. He began taking violin lessons at the age of seven. Zelia M. Breaux, noted Oklahoma City music teacher, inspired Anderson. He was a member of the Douglas High School marching and jazz bands under Breaux's leadership. In 1934, in one of his first professional opportunities, Anderson played with the Ted Armstrong band in Clinton, Oklahoma. In the late 1930s he was a member of the Xavier University jazz band in New Orleans.

In 1939 Anderson returned to Oklahoma City and joined the Leslie Sheffield band that included Charlie Christian and Hank Bridges. The next year he left Oklahoma for the Kansas City jazz scene and became trumpeter for the Jay McShann band. Nationally known by 1942, McShann's band included several widely touted instrumentalists, including Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. Anderson remained with McShann until the World War II draft broke up the group. He then moved from one band to another before joining the Billy Eckstine Orchestra in 1944. Shortly thereafter, Anderson contracted tuberculosis and returned to Oklahoma City. After recovery from the disease, he was medically advised to abandon the trumpet and switched to piano. Anderson influenced numerous jazz trumpeters, including Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro. Like many Oklahoma-born jazz artists, Buddy Anderson is another obscure but important figure in the evolution of modern jazz styles.

Anderson died May 10, 1997.

Source: Carney, George O. “Anderson, Bernard Hartwell (1919-1997).” Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma State University, 2007. Accessed 4 November 2009.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Bernard “Step Buddy” Anderson Collection

Identifier: MS-0020
Scope and Contents The Bernard "Step Buddy" Anderson Collection was gifted to LaBudde Special Collections in 1997 by the Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors. The collection captures Anderson’s life and career from 1944 until his death in 1997, but also includes correspondence dating back to 1930. The collection is particularly strong in Anderson’s literary and musical creative output, most of which was created between 1958 and 1993. Encapsulated is a wide range of writings from jazz compositions to musical stage...
Dates: 1930 - 1996