He began playing the piano at a young age; at around age twelve, he started learning both bass and tuba. Early in his career, he performed with jazz drummer Kaiser Marshall.
During the 1930s and early 1940s, he was a member of the Royal Sunset Orchestra.
Born to a concert pianist mother, he spent his early years in Ontario, Canada, and later relocated to New York City.
During the 1950s, he recorded with jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd.