Edgar Sampson

Edgar Melvin Sampson (October 31, 1907 – January 16, 1973), nicknamed "The Lamb",[1] was an American jazz composer, arranger, saxophonist, and violinist. Born in New York City, he started playing violin at the age of six and picked up the saxophone in high school. He worked as an arranger and composer for many jazz bands in the 1930s and '40s, his most notable composition being "Stompin' at the Savoy".

Edgar Sampson
Birth nameEdgar Melvin Sampson
Born(1907-10-31)October 31, 1907
New York City, New York, United States
DiedJanuary 16, 1973(1973-01-16) (aged 65)
Englewood, New Jersey, United States
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger, instrumentalist
InstrumentsSaxophone, violin
Years active1924–1960s
Associated actsJoe Colman, Charlie "Fess" Johnson, Duke Ellington, Rex Stewart, Fletcher Henderson

Life and careerEdit

Born Edgar Melvin Sampson in 1907, Sampson, an African American, started his professional career in 1924 with a violin piano duo with Joe Colman. Through the rest of the 1920s and early '30s Sampson played with many bands, including those of Charlie "Fess" Johnson, Duke Ellington, Rex Stewart and Fletcher Henderson.[2] In 1933 Sampson joined the Chick Webb band. It was while with Webb that Sampson created his most enduring work as a composer, writing "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "Don't Be That Way". He left the Webb band in 1936 with a reputation as a composer and arranger that led to freelance work with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Red Norvo, Teddy Hill, Teddy Wilson and Chick Webb.

Edgar Sampson became a student of the Schillinger System in the early 1940s.[3] He continued to play sax through the late '40s and started his own band (1949–51). In the late 1940s through the '50s he worked with Latin performers such as Marcelino Guerra, Tito Rodríguez and Tito Puente as an arranger. Sampson recorded one album under his own name, Swing Softly Sweet Sampson, in 1956. Due to illness, he stopped working in the late 1960s.

His daughter, Grace Sampson, also studied music and co-wrote the standard "Mambo Inn" with Mario Bauzá and Bobby Woodlen.[4]

Compositions and arrangementsEdit

  • "Dark Rapture" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Manny Kurtz)
  • "If Dreams Come True" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Irving Mills)
  • "Lullaby in Rhythm" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Clarence Profit, Walter Hirsch)
  • "Stompin' at the Savoy" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, Andy Razaf)
  • "Hoopdee Whodee (Edgar Sampson)
  • "I'll Be Back for More" (Edgar Sampson, Candido Camero, Sammy Gallop)
  • "Happy and Satisfied" (Edgar Sampson, Walter Bishop)
  • "Cool and Groovy" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Blue Lou" (Edgar Sampson, Irving Mills)
  • "The Blues Made Me Feel This Way" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Light and Sweet" (Edgar Sampson, Bill Hardy)
  • "The Sweetness of You" (Edgar Sampson)
  • "Don't Be That Way" (Edgar Sampson, Benny Goodman, Mitchell Parish)

(Source: Liner notes from Swing Softly Sweet Sampson, Coral Record CRL 57049 (1957)


  1. ^ Driggs, Frank (2001). "Sampson, Edgar". In Root, Deane L. (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Spellman, A.B. (1985). Four Lives in the Bebop Business (1st Limelight ed.). New York: Limelight Editions. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-87910-042-1.
  3. ^ Curtis, Constance; Herndon, Cholie (30 April 1949). "Know your Boroughs Orchestra Men Talk About Show Business". The New York Amsterdam News. p. 15.
  4. ^ "New York beat". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. November 11, 1954. p. 63.