Tuesday, December 18, 2007

R.I.P.: Cecil Payne

Cecil Payne (baritone saxophone)
(b: 14.Dec.1922, Brooklyn/NY; d: 27.Nov.2007, Camden, NJ)

The baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne died November 27th at the age of 84. Payne sat in the baritone chair of Dizzy Gillespie's big band from 1946 to 1949, later played with big bands such as the ones of Count Basie, Woody Herman or Lionel Hampton, but also with musicians such as Randy Weston, John Coltrane, Tadd Dameron, Coleman Hawkins and many others. In recent years he had eyesight problems, and lived secluded in his Brooklyn home. Friends arranged for meals and transportation to gigs which he continued to play until he settled in a nursing home about a year ago. Obituaries: Arts Journal, All About Jazz, The Independent, Guardian. I love Cecil's performance on Dizzy Gillespie's LaserDisc "An All-Star Tribute to the Jazz Master", filmed in 1987 and released by Pioneer. This month, he placed # 3 as Best Baritone Sax in the 72nd Annual DownBeat Readers Poll, confirming his popularity among jazz fans, although he never has been a "household name".

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