born on 6/6/1917 in Sumrall, MS, United States
died on 22/8/1987 in Minneapolis, MN, United States
Links www.allmusic.com (English)
Life and career
Leonard Caston Sr. was born in Sumrall, Mississippi, United States, and raised in Meadville, Mississippi from age eight. He lived in Chicago from 1934 to 1936 but then moved back to Mississippi after his family relocated to Natchez. He learned to play piano under the influence of Leroy Carr and Art Tatum; he has also credited Andy Kirk and Jimmy Rogers, as well as his relative Kim Weathersby, as stylistic influences.
In 1938 he returned to Chicago, where he met with Mayo Williams, a producer for Decca Records. Williams recorded him in a trio with Eugene Gilmore and Arthur Dixon; Dixon introduced him to his brother, Willie Dixon. Willie and Caston then formed the Five Breezes, along with Jimmy Gilmore, Joe Bell, and Willie Hawthorne, a group in the style of The Ink Spots. In 1940, Caston recorded his first solo record for Decca, "The Death of Walter Barnes", which also included Robert Nighthawk on harmonica.
The Five Breezes disbanded in 1941, and Caston began playing in the Rhythm Rascals Trio with Alfred Elkins and Ollie Crawford. The group did USO tours, and in 1945 performed at a conference for Dwight Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, and Georgy Zhukov. After the war, he recorded under his own name as well as for Roosevelt Sykes and Walter Davis, and did myriad studio sessions. He also recorded again with Dixon as the Four Jumps of Jive and the Big Three Trio, playing in both groups with Bernardo Dennis as well. Ollie Crawford joined this group soon after Dennis's departure. The Big Three Trio recorded for Columbia Records and Okeh Records.
The Big Three Trio's last sides were recorded in 1952, but the group did not officially break up until 1956. Caston continued performing for decades afterwards, returning to perform with Dixon in 1984.
Caston also released an album, Baby Doo's House Party, shortly before his death of heart disease in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1987.
His son, Leonard Caston, Jr., is an R&B singer and songwriter who sang with The Radiants among other endeavors.
- Bruce Eder, [Leonard Caston at All Music Guide Leonard Caston] at Allmusic