Born on a Native American reservation in Oklahoma, Oscar played in a family band of ten children that became popular in the west. In 1942 he went to New York and worked with Roy Eldridge. Later he worked with Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines and Ben Webster. In 1944 Oscar co-led a group with Dizzy Gillespie. He also was part of the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1945 to 1948.