Bill Challis

William H. Challis was born in Wilkes-Barre (PA), USA on 8 July 1904. He died in Wilkles-Barre (4 October 1994). Challis was a versatile musician who played piano and saxophone. He then became a staff arranger for Jean Goldkette, in 1926. Goldkette’s band featured several young jazzmen like Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, and others. Challis was one of the people who left Goldkette in 1927 for Paul Whiteman. He remained with Whiteman until 1930. He freelanced from there, creating arrangements for big swing bands such as Jimmy, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw. He was also a writer for Bobby Hackett’s Casa Loma Orchestra. Challis’ work was notable for its time throughout his entire career. While often overlooked in the assessment of the role of arrangers in developing big band music, Whiteman’s charts for Whiteman are excellent technical exercises that counter the notion that the band never swung. Challis’ long association to Beiderbecke, and other top-flight musicians, meant that many of their finest jazz solos appeared in his arrangements of tunes like ‘Lonely Melody,’ ‘Dardanella, and ‘San’. From The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Colin Larkin

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