Nobuo Tsukahara, better known as Nobuo Hara was born November 19, 1926 in Toyama, Japan. He played in a military band during World War II and in a Tokyo officer’s club after the war. Realizing classical music was not going to pay a living wage he ventured into jazz and joined the ensemble Sharps and Flats, taking leadership in 1952, a position he held for over six decades. This band helped to make jazz popular in Japan after WWII and they recorded copiously as well as appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1967.
In 2007 at 80 years old he still the led Nobuo Hara and His Sharps and Flats, the 17-piece big band. Sharps and Flats have accompanied Chiemi Eri and included sidemen such as Norio Maeda, Shotaro Moriyasu, and Akitoshi Igarashi. Noted for their sweet rhythms and their swing they have continued to mesmerize audiences even today.
Saxophonist Nobuo Hara has performed and/or recorded with Quincy Jones, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, Henry Mancini, Silvie Vartan, Nat King Cole, Yves Montand, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross, and the list goes on and on.
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Bennie Wallace was born November 18, 1946 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and began playing in local clubs with the encouragement of East Ridge, Tennessee High School band director and drummer Chet Hedgecoth and professional reed player Billy Usselton, who appeared as a guest at a stage band festival and heard Wallace with the East Ridge High School Swing Band.
After studying clarinet at the University of Tennessee, Wallace settled in New York in 1971 with the encouragement of Monty Alexander, who hired him and recommended him to the American Federation of Musicians local, which virtually guaranteed his entry. He went on to play with Barry Harris, Buddy Rich, Dannie Richmond and he released his debut recording with Flip Phillips and Scott Hamilton in 1977.
Bennie has cited Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins among many major saxophone influences. He recorded on the Blue Note label in 1985 that had given him much of the key music of his formative years. The eclectic cast on the album Twilight Time reflects the mix of musical styles he encountered in the local club scene of Chattanooga.
He toured and recorded with trombonist Ray Anderson, exploring a broad repertoire not always associated with jazz, and also provided original music for Ron Shelton’s films Blaze and White Men Can’t Jump. Tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace has released twenty albums as a leader, has recorded with George Gruntz, Eric Watson, Mose Allison and Franco Ambrosetti as well as continuing to perform, record and tour leading his own band.
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Eggy Ley was born Derek William Ley on November 4, 1928 in London, England and first played drums and boogie-woogie piano. During his military service in the Royal Air Force he discovered and began playing the soprano saxophone.
In 1952 he played with Mick Collier’s Chicago Rhythm Kings followed by stints with Eric Silk and Stan Sowden. Then he put together his own Trad-Jazz band, which received a long guest appearance at the New Orleans Bar in Hamburg, Germany in 1955. Eggy kept the band going throughout Germany and Scandinavia until 1962, and recorded several records, with Benny Waters and for different labels, of which the Blues for St. Pauli became a hit in Germany.
Playing regularly with his band in London, Ley also produced for Radio Luxembourg and between 1969 and 1983 he produced for the British Forces Broadcasting Service. During the 1970s he co-directed the band Jazz Legend with Hugh Rainey and also recorded together with Cy Laurie.
In 1982, he founded his band Hot Shots, ran the Jazzin’ Around newspaper and toured overseas before emigrating to Canada in the late 1980s. Soprano and alto saxophonist Eggy Ley, considered one of the first British soprano saxophonists in jazz, passed away as a result of a heart attack on December 20, 1995 in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.
Andy McGhee was born on November 3, 1927 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Graduating from the New England Conservatory in 1949 the saxophonist worked for a short time with trumpeter Roy Eldridge and local Boston musician Fat Man Robinson. After marrying in 1950, McGhee served in the Army in Korea and at Fort Dix, New Jersey where he played in an Army band and gave lessons to other musicians.
From 1957 to 1963 McGhee worked with Lionel Hampton’s band, touring the United States, Europe, and the Far East. During his tenure with Hampton, he composed the song, McGhee, that was recorded on The Many Sides of Lionel Hampton. He went on to work with Woody Herman from 1963 to 1966.
Joining the faculty of Berklee College of Music in 1966, Andy taught saxophonists Bill Pierce, Javon Jackson, Donald Harrison, Antonio Hart, Sam Newsome, Richie Cole, Greg Osby, and Ralph Moore. While devoting his time to teaching, McGhee wrote the instruction books Improvisation for Saxophone and Flute: The Scale/Mode Approach and Modal Strategies for Saxophone.
In the late Seventies he teamed again with Lionel Hampton and the Lionel Hampton Alumni Band as part of The Boston Globe Jazz Festival, performing with Bob Wilber, Ernie Wilkins, Teddy Wilson, Alan Dawson and Terri Lynne Carrington. and Hampton on vibraphone. The early 1990s, saw McGhee touring again with Lionel Hampton as member of the Golden Men of Jazz tour with Harry “Sweets” Edison, Clark Terry, Benny Bailey, Al Grey, and Benny Golson.
In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. On October 12, 2017, tenor saxophonist and educator Andy McGhee passed away at the age of 89.
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Theodore Malcolm Nash was born on October 31, 1922 in the Boston suburb of Somerville, Massachusetts. His goal was to become a classical flutist until he began playing saxophone in his early teens. His professional career began when he went on the road with a succession of dance bands, landing the solo tenor chair with the Les Brown band in 1944 where he rapidly made a name for himself.
His playing was notable for his mastery of the extreme altissimo register of the saxophone. He authored Ted Nash’s Studies in High Harmonics for Tenor and Alto Saxophone published in 1946, that is still in print.
In the late 1940s Ted became part of the thriving Hollywood movie and television recording industry. In 1956 he recorded with Paul Weston’s orchestra the hit album Day by Day, with vocals by his former colleague and close friend, Doris Day.
He was featured on The Music from Peter Gunn soundtrack album performing the bluesy, high-energy alto sax solo on the theme as well as the wistful alto sax solo on the second bridge of Dreamsville. Henry Mancini composed The Brothers Go to Mother’s from Peter Gunn as a feature for Ted and and his trombonist Dick.
From the mid 50s through the end of the Sixties he recorded sixteen albums with Georgie Auld. Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, Pete Rugolo, Lalo Schifrin. Saxophone, flute and clarinet Ted Nash, who was a first-call session musician in the Hollywood recording studios, passed away on May 12, 2011.