Lionel Hampton with Joe Wilder: Wendell Phillip Culley

       Instead of saying “Where is Waldo?” I have been saying, “Where is Wendell?”  As I completed a post today on Wendell Culley and the Count Basie Orchestra, I again was given permission to post the following photo on my blog from Monk Rowe through Joe Wilder-Trumpet Player, who will be 90 in February 2012.
Lionel Hampton Orchestra, 1946
Joe Morris, Trumpet Player, Johnny Griffin-Sax Player
Wendell Culley sitting to Left of Joe Morris in back
Courtesy of Joe Wilder
Chicago Famous Band Box, 1946
Courtesy of Joe Wilder
(Arrow) Wendell Phillip Culley

Monk Rowe is a professor at Hamilton College and director of the Jazz Archives who has interviewed and researched many jazz artists extensively.  To listen to an interview of Joe Wilder go here.

Monk Rowe also has a wonderful Blog at Jazz BackStory, that may be of interest.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Wendell Phillip Culley in Lionel Hampton’s Band

Wendell Phillip Culley (trmpt) in Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra
other artist shown: Duke Garrette

Howard Theatre, Washington
Summer of 1948
Courtesy of The Otto Flueckiger Collection


As time beats on, history can be forgotten and the people that made history happen may be long gone and their own stories may not ever be told.  I have a friend that is a photographer and one that documents history through his lens.  He mentioned that every 25 years we must ensure that the history is written down so that it will not be forgotten.  

When I first started looking for photos of my Grand Uncle Wendell P. Culley, It seemed almost impossible to locate anything.  I have done a few posts on Wendell, presenting a snapshot, a few ads, and photo’s from his yearbook when he attended High School Commerce in Worcester, Massachusetts.  I had to travel to get a few of these photo’s as they were not readily available.  It was shared to me that Wendell did not like pictures being taken of him, so that may explain why it has been difficult to locate many.

Since Wendell was not famous, but was well known in Jazz circles and had worked for famous Jazz artists, it would become clear that I needed to continually look and see if there were any immediate photo’s online of the bands he played for.  (mind you, I did not even know what he looked like).  

Wendell Culley was born and raised in Worcester, MA on January 8, 1906 and died on May 8, 1983 in Los Angeles.  He was a sibling of thirteen documented children.  He and his brother Raymond Mansfield *Cully, Jr.  played in local bands in Worcester, MA and the New England area together. Raymond played drums and had a big influence on Wendell in how he played the tempo of his horn.

At this time travel is not possible, so my resources at hand are the internet and looking at finding aids and key archives that hold these artists photo’s and records; and of course inquiring further about the contents.  

The contents of websites change all the time and this time I struck gold.

Lionel Hampton Orchestra
Wendell Phillip, Trumpet
New York Strand Theatre
Courtesy of The Otto Flueckiger Collection

Wendell Culley had played for Lionel Hampton between 1944-1949.  I happened to come across a website Crownpropeller’s Blog that was featuring Lionel Hampton at Strand Theatre.  There was a very nice band photo, and upon clicking on the photo, the outside border of it had my Uncle’s name!  BINGO!  I was too excited! It was very difficult to see the detail of Wendell’s face, but when I clicked (read more)…There were sections of the photo blown up for the purpose of seeing the details. 

 I immediately contacted the blog administrator to get permission to use the photo from the collection.  Permission was granted. 

The purpose of this post was to share the photos I discovered, and I know it doesn’t do complete justice to Wendell.  As time goes on and I do more research on Wendell Culley and his siblings more will be discovered.  The lives of our families are so multi-faceted, so therefore another post will be necessary at a later date to share more.  

I hope you enjoyed these photo’s as much as I do.

Now for some music….

*Culley or Cully..Wendell always added “e” to his last name.
**The photo at the top was sent to me by Armin Buettner as a Courtesy of The Otto Flueckiger Collection 
via (Thank you for your kindess)

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Tombstone Tuesday (Wendell Culley and Zara Cully Brown)

My Daughter Tori and I placing flowers on Wendell Culley’s unmarked Grave

Summer of 2010, My daughter and I went to locate my Great Uncle Wendell Phillip Culley’s grave and headstone.  Wendell was born January 8, 1906-May 8, 1983. Wendell was a jazz musician from Worcester, MA and played trumpet for Sissle Noble, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton and played on over 200 recordings for many other singers and musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn. Wendell was one of Zara Cully Brown’s from the “Jefferson’s” younger brothers.  Much to my surprise there was no headstone.  There will be some family efforts to get Wendell a marker on his Grave. Our loved one’s should never be forgotten.

Location of Grave:
Rose Hills Memorial Park
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Garden of Affection, Sec 9, Lot 3149 Grave 4

Zara Cully Brown, listed are her husband and two of her children.

Photo by Scott Michaels

Location of Gravesite:  Photos from
Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Freedom Mausoleum, Columbarium of Victory

Photo by A.J. Marik: Zara Cully Brown’s wall nitch

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Summer Trip to Harlem (June 8-18, 2010): The Town Hall

It was always my intention to blog the updates of my family research trips as I was searching and discovering the missing pieces of my family history.  However, as life happens and I got so busy doing other things, I allowed my focus to be side-tracked away from my goals of sharing, so “blogging” had been put on hold.

Alas….I still get another chance to share with you what I have done, and I am so excited to do so…..

A prior post from April 2010, I talked about the historical significance of “THE TOWN HALL.”  During my first visit to Harlem, NY, I had the opportunity to visit The Town Hall, while my daughter documented our trip through photography.

The Town Hall   Photo by Vanessa Moore

“The Town Hall has played a central role in the cultural history of New York City since January 1921, when architects McKim, Mead & White completed the building for a suffragist organization called The League for Political Education.  Built to serve as and educational forum for the discussion of important civic issues.  The People’s Hall revealed its extraordinary acoustics on Feb 12, 1921, during a recital by Spanish violinist Joan Manen.  (taken from Town Hall 88th Anniversary program)

The Town Hall has deep history for its musical performances by many greats such as Marian Anderson who made her New York Town Hall Debut on December 20, 1935, after being denied a chance to perform at other venues because of her race.  Others that have performed on the stage were, Billy Joel, Wynton Marsalis, Bill Cosby, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Ellen DeGeneres, and many many more.”

The Town Hall also is known for its school programs which allows elementary school children to perform on stage to debut a recital for the people of New York.

This is what brought me to the Town Hall, as my mother Betty Mae Peters performed on this very stage as an elementary school student in her first recital in 1932.

I had the opportunity to tour the interior of the Town Hall, which at the time was closed.  When I entered the building a gentleman by the name of George, who was the elevator operator, greeted me.  I shared with him that my mother as a little girl in the 30’s performed at the Town Hall and I wanted more information on the establishment.  He had me follow him into the elevator, which was the original and required an operator.  He took me to the top floor into the administrative office and told me the President was there and he would have the necessary answers.

When I walked in, the first office I came to was the President’s, and his door was wide open.  He was a big man, and was the whitest man I had ever seen…and he was not an albino.  He looked up from his desk without smiling and in a very irritated voice asked what I wanted.  I told him that he looked very busy, and I was sorry for disturbing him, but I had traveled all the way from San Diego, California and wanted to know more about The Town Hall and to take some pictures for my documentation.  He told me he was too busy, but when I told him it was very important to me and why I needed the information, he allowed his assistant to tour me around.

The young lady explained to me that this was very unusual for him to allow her to show me around as he usually does not do that.  She let me know I should take whatever pictures I could get as this is a rare occurrence.  When we completed the tour, she had me go back to her office so she could give me a historical write-up of The Town Hall.

When my visit was over, the Elevator Operator gave me a wealth of information of the Town Hall and told me if I came back another day, he would have more for me.  I did not get the opportunity to go back as my time in NY was short.

George shared with me that his father had worked at The Town Hall when he immigrated to the U.S.  He came from a line of well known performers from Russia.  His father worked at the Town Hall in the 40’s and 50’s and wanted his son to come and work there, but George didn’t until ten years ago.

George, Elevator Operator

The two hours spent at The Town Hall was amazing and it was time well-spent.  Next time I go back, I intend on attending a performance as they still hold shows today.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011
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