Before trumpeter Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham arrived in Chicago in 1926, he had toured on the black vaudeville circuit, recorded with Ma Rainey and led his own band. His credits from the '30s through the '60s include membership in McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Cab Calloway's orchestra, the DeParis Brothers' band and Benny Goodman combos, recordings with Billie Holiday and Count Basie, a long association with Machito and other Latin bands and a tour of the Soviet Union with the New York Jazz Repertory Company. In the early '70s, Cheatham was coaxed out of retirement.
"They're keeping me quite busy," says Cheatham, whose nickname derives from his parents' wish that he study medicine. "I do the things that I feel like doing and those that I don't, I don't." The Nashville-born Cheatham is one of more than 40 musicians who will perform at this weekend's three-day 19th Annual Manassas Jazz Festival. Others are trombonist Vic Dickenson (to whom this year's festival is dedicated), trumpeters Chris Griffin and Dick Sudhalter, pianists John Eaton, Sammy Price and Dick Wellstood, guitarist Bill Harris, drummers Johnny Blowers and Barrett Deems, vocalist Barbara Lea and the festival's producer, vocalist and kazoo player, Johnson "Fat Cat" McRee. (For schedule information schedule and locations call 631-1165).
"I was very fortunate to have met these guys and to have heard them play," says the 79-year-old Cheatham of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan and other trumpeters he has admired. "That's how I got my education."