Billy Tipton. He’s a well known figure in LGBTQ history, but oftentimes his profession comes second to his identity and personal life. Tipton was a jazz musician who, with his trio (the Billy Tipton Trio) garnered moderate success in the 40s and 50s, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
The Billy Tipton Trio was an instrumental jazz trio that released two albums, both in 1957. For those, like me, who aren’t jazz aficionados at all, the Tipton Trio has some swing to it, and was obviously influenced by swing and the big band sounds made popular during the period. It sounds a lot like the Vince Guaraldi Trio, which recorded the soundtrack for the Charlie Brown Christmas special (side note: greatest christmas special of all time). The piano is bright and peppy, and the centerpiece of the band. The bass has a bit of grove to it, and the drums are basic beats done with brushes. Based on the records, Tipton was a talented musician, who knew how to play a standard, and well. He also played the saxophone, but I could not find any recordings of that.
Tipton was a fine musician, and should definitely be getting more acknowledgment from the LGBTQ community for his talent rather than just his personal life.
Check out the records here (ignore, the problematic introduction): http://www.queermusicheritage.us/feb2003bt.html