Bubber, Cab, and the Cotton Club

Menace as sexy energy.

James “Bubber” Miley and Duke Ellington, ca. 1926

Saxophonist Otto Hardwick described his band mate James Wesley “Bubber” Miley as “a happy-go-lucky, moon-faced, slim, brown boy with laughing eyes and a mouth full of gold teeth.” Born in Aiken, South Carolina in 1903, Miley moved with his family to New York when he was six. At 14, he could play a little trombone and cornet. By 1921, Miley was recording with Mamie Smith and Her Jazz