Willie Gant

Willie "The Tiger" Gant (born 1900, New York City, died February 1979)[1] was an American jazz bandleader and pianist.

Gant began on piano at age 12, and at 13 he began studying under James P. Johnson.[2] He played in local New York clubs and cafes from age 17. Although he appears in a photograph with Lillyn Brown & Her Jazzbo Syncopators in 1921, he wasn't a band member and filled in for an absent piano player for the photo.[2] He formed his own band, the Ramblers, that same year. Over the course of the next six years, Gant's band rivaled Fats Waller in popularity; it also served as early experience for many noted sideman, including Freddie Green, Ward Pinkett, Billy Taylor, Happy Caldwell, and Manzie Johnson. Gant recorded some sides in the 1920s, and after the dissolution of his Ramblers devoted himself almost exclusively to solo piano work. He played in New York at places like the Hotel Fairfax and Carutti's from the 1930s into the 1960s.


  1. Cadence, Vol. 8 no. 6 (June 1982), p. 47.
  2. Lipskin, Mike; Kunstadt, Len (October 1960). "This is William D. Gant". Record Research (30): 3–4, 16. .

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