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"He treated everybody well..."


Warren Durret in front of one of his many new cars


Durrett never expected his music business to financially support him throughout his life; he held many other jobs. One of his other passions was cars, and he worked for Ford Motor Company for some time.

"He’s always been fascinated with cars, and he would buy and sell a new car every year. He would sell his car, and buy a new one. He said that, 'because, if I come on hard times, then I'll have a newer car to get me through.' And he carried a lot of the band in his car when they went to jobs, so he had to have a dependable car."  - Jan Durrett

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This particular financial log is from a Warren Durret Orchestra gig in the Peirson Hall at the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

"Oh and he kept records! He had these notebooks – these little tiny notebooks – and he always wore shirts with little pockets.  If he bought a two-cents something, it was in the notebook. He just kept records from the very beginning. He didn’t spend a dime without the record somewhere."  -Jan Durrett

Warren was a meticulous record keeper. The Warren Durrett Collection housed in the LaBudde Special Collections Archive contains financial logbooks for all forty-one years of Warren's involvement with the band. Additionally, there exist contact sheets for every member of the band, photographs, and numerous manuscript scores.

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A sampe of Durrett's correspondence with a potential employer 


Durrett kept diligent records of his correspondences, negotiations, and contracts with venues and employers.  The LaBudde Special Collections Archive contains records of these correspondences and contracts from throughout Durrett's career. He was always sure to communicate his band's needs, financial and logistically. His organizational and communication skills contributed to his success as a leader.

"Almost weekly, I would see him whipping out 25 letters to everybody in the band, with an updated schedule. And times and all that. He really kept in touch with them. It was all by phone or by mail. He lived in the days before computers..."  - Jan Durrett


Warren at the piano, in 1973


Warren Durrett was a well-loved leader, not only due to his musical talent, but to his engaging and good-natured personality. When he passed away in 2002, his friends, family, and colleagues from all walks of life joined together to celebrate his life. 

"We had a wonderful funeral for him, oh my gosh. His musician friends showed up and they had a jazz band, a jazz quartet on the stage, a brass quintet up in the chairs. Marilyn Maye sang.... They said it was like a band concert, and the minister got to speak a few times. They said they could have made up three large orchestras out of that audience."  - Jan Durrett 

"The two main things about Warren was he knew how to promote what he had to offer, and he kept records. And he treated everybody well. Everybody got treated well. He didn’t stand around and gossip about people, that wasn’t one of his things. He loved to say good things about everyone."  - Jan Durrett