Bob Mielke 1926-2020

The passing of trombone player and bandleader Bob Mielke at age 93 on April 17th was the result of age and fragility, not the pandemic. He was in slow decline for decades, though able to play at parties and special events until recently. Mielke (pronounced, “milky”) and his East Bay jazz ensembles, most notably The Bearcats Jazz Band, were a distinct and independent voice in the great Traditional Jazz revival that swept through San Francisco and environs in the mid-20th Century. He was one of the most imaginative trombonists to emerge from the Frisco Revival. Bob’s personal trombone style fused elements from Kid Ory’s New Orleans tailgate tradition, the Harlem swing of J.C. Higginbotham and plunger mute techniques of Ellington’s “Tricky Sam” Nanton. His exemplar for playing New Orleans trombone parts was George Brunis in the 1939 Muggsy Spanier Ragtime Band records. Over the decades he was associated with some of the most illustrious names in Jazz: Sidney Bechet, Bob Wilbur, Joe Sullivan, George Lewis, Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, Don Ewell, Jess Stacy, Bob Helm and Lu Watters. The Bearcats, L to R: Bob Mielke, Dick O
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Dave Radlauer is a six-time award-winning radio broadcaster presenting early Jazz since 1982. His vast JAZZ RHYTHM website is a compendium of early jazz history and photos with some 500 hours of exclusive music, broadcasts, interviews and audio rarities.

Radlauer is focused on telling the story of San Francisco Bay Area Revival Jazz. Preserving the memory of local legends, he is compiling, digitizing, interpreting and publishing their personal libraries of music, images, papers and ephemera to be conserved in the Dave Radlauer Jazz Collection at the Stanford University Library archives.

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