Sunday, November 3, 2013

Frank Wess 1922-2013

The great jazz saxophonist and flutist Frank Wess has died (h/t HC). The WaPo obit mentions that Wess's first flute solos in the Basie band, before the flute was a widely used instrument in jazz, caused the flute's use in jazz to shoot up; everywhere you looked, "here come the flutes," said Basie.

Also, this interesting tidbit from the Post obituary:
Mr. Wess was an Army musician during World War II and, at age 20, was leading a 17-piece band. "We were sent to Africa in 1942," he recalled in a 2005 interview with the All About Jazz Web site. "When we got down there, the first gig we played was for the Americans, the Germans and the English. Can you believe that? They were all dancing together."
That Wess had a gorgeous sound on both sax and flute was confirmed for me last night, hearing some of his tracks on the radio. I saw him play in person once, many years ago. RIP.

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