Tenor Madness

Concert Information

The Allen Room
May 16, 2006

Tenor Madness

A retrospective of the great tenor legends, featuring the eminent Frank Wess. Works by tenor titans such as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Stan Getz, and the premiere of Dan Cavanagh's "Joy Soup."

Guest Artist

Frank Wess, tenor saxophone

Frank Wellington Wess was born on January, 4th 1922 in Kansas City, Missouri. At the age of 10 he started to learn the alto saxophone. After moving to Washington DC he started playing in local bands, first on alto and later on tenor saxophone as well. He worked briefly in a band led by Blanche Calloway. During World War II Frank played tenor saxophone and solo clarinet in the army band and later led a band accompanying Josephine Baker. After being discharged he went on to play in the bands of Billy Eckstine, Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder and Bull Moose Jackson. In 1949 he began studying flute with Wallace Mann from the National Symphony and Harold Bennett, Metropolitan Opera, New York. In 1953 Frank joined the Count Basie Orchestra, starting off on tenor saxophone and flute but later playing alto saxophone too. He stayed with Basie until 1964. Having recorded dozens of LPs with Basie he formed a unique partnership with fellow tenor player Frank Foster and utilized the popularity of the Basie band to introduce the flute as an independent voice to jazz audiences, becoming one of its first major soloists. In 2007 he received the American Jazz Masters Fellowship award from The National Endowment For The Arts. He passed away in 2013.

First Music Commission