Nat Peck, Trombonist for Glenn Miller, Dizzy Gillespie

Clarke-Boland Big Band, “Volcano,” 1969

Trombonists are not used to the spotlight. I should know. I toiled in ultra-obscurity as a grade school, high school and college 2nd chair trombonist. Even spectacular ones–like Nat Peck–are not front-and-center despite the essential role they play in the overall sound of a band. Watch closely to catch a fleeting glimpse of Peck in the videos included here.

“Con Alma” with Dizzy Gillespie in Denmark, 1970

Peck (January 13, 1925-October 24, 2015) performed with one of the few trombonists to achieve marquee status–Glenn Miller. He was the last surviving members of Miller’s Army Air Force Orchestra, which played during the final years of WWII. After the war, he studied at the Paris Conservatoire using his GI Bill benefits. As quoted in his obituary in The Telegraph, he lived a “Jekyll and Hyde existence–by day a serious classical music student and at night in all the bebop joints in Paris.”

Interview with Nat Peck on Glenn Miller

In Europe, he recorded and performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Duke Ellington, Michel Legrand and Josephine Baker. He played in the pit for the Paris premiere of West Side Story.