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'Mr. Trombone' Harold Betters plans a jazzy 90th

Mary Pickels
| Thursday, March 8, 2018, 4:21 p.m.
Harold Betters, also known as “Mr. Trombone,” has appeared on various television programs, including “The Tonight Show,” “Merv Griffin” and “Mike Douglas,” as well as local programs. He will celebrate his 90th birthday with a public party on March 17 at Christian W. Klay Winery.
Trib Total Media
Harold Betters, also known as “Mr. Trombone,” has appeared on various television programs, including “The Tonight Show,” “Merv Griffin” and “Mike Douglas,” as well as local programs. He will celebrate his 90th birthday with a public party on March 17 at Christian W. Klay Winery.
In this 2014 photo, Harold Betters, then 86, dazzles crowds at the Porter Theater on the day honoring his life, and music in Connellsville.
Celeste Van Kirk | Trib Total Media
In this 2014 photo, Harold Betters, then 86, dazzles crowds at the Porter Theater on the day honoring his life, and music in Connellsville.
Promotional photo of Harold Betters from his early career.
Submitted
Promotional photo of Harold Betters from his early career.
Pittsburgh jazz legend, Harold Betters, waves to the crowd after performing a set at The Lamp Theatre in Irwin as part of the borough's 2016 Art and Jazz Nite.
Brian F. Henry | For The Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh jazz legend, Harold Betters, waves to the crowd after performing a set at The Lamp Theatre in Irwin as part of the borough's 2016 Art and Jazz Nite.
Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill is the setting for Connellsville native and jazz trombonist legend Harold Betters' 90th birthday party on March 17.
Christian W. Klay Winery Facebook
Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill is the setting for Connellsville native and jazz trombonist legend Harold Betters' 90th birthday party on March 17.

Perhaps best known as "Mr. Trombone," Connellsville native Harold Betters will celebrate his 90th birthday with a party and jam session on March 17 at the Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, Fayette County.

Betters is a household name throughout the region and well known for his command of the trombone.

Throughout his long career, which began with gigs with his brothers at the family-owned bar and grill, he has played with musical greats like Ray Charles, Al Hirt, Louis Armstrong, Slide Hampton and Ramsey Lewis.

Betters opened for comedian Dick Gregory at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem and toured with him.

After formal music training at Ithaca College and the Brooklyn Conservatory, Betters was drafted in 1950.

He played in the 308th Army Band for two years, and that's where Betters learned how to play music.

"You don't really get to know it until you get out in the streets. I can tell a guy that's knowledgeable about music, but he doesn't feel it. When you hear stuff like that, you should feel it, and know how to move," he says in a 2005 Tribune-Review article.

Betters has recorded more than two dozen albums and CDs and marked more than half a century of entertaining audiences with his jazz.

During the 1 p.m. birthday party, which is free and open to the public, cake will be served and wine, cocktails and food will be available for purchase.

A Facebook post invites musician friends to attend and perform in a jam session.

Betters will return to the winery for a 1 p.m. May 27 performance as part of its pavilion music series.

Details: 724-439-3424 or cwklaywinery.com

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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