Al Dennie

Sep. 27, 1903 - Apr. 22, 1995

Alfred Stanley Dennie was born in Wellston, Oklahoma, on September 27, 1903. He was one of many musicians introduced to music by Douglass High School teacher Zelia Breaux. Al moved to Kansas City and received further training from Tuskegee graduate, Professor William H. Dawson. His professional beginnings go back to his days with such seminal Kansas City bands, as Chauncie Downs and the Rinky Dinks, George Wilkerson’s Musical Magnets, Jessie Stone’s band, and Bennie Moten’s band.

Along with Bennie Moten, he organized the Jap Allen Band. This group toured extensively throughout the Midwest, soon becoming featured in many of Kansas City’s historic band battles of the era. He also played a prominent role in the Paul Banks Orchestra, another important early territorial band.

Al was one of the first people to notice the talent of a seventeen-year- old piano player named Jay McShann, and eventually gave McShann his first lessons. Al spent much of his life in Kansas City, playing with jazz musicians from across the country.