A fine, swinging saxophonist, Curtis Peagler was an asset to many different groups through the years. His alto sound was influenced by Charlie Parker, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and, to a lesser extent, Louis Jordan. At 13, he started on the C-melody sax and soon joined the Sons of Rhythm on alto. Prior to being called up by the Army in 1953, Peagler worked with territory bands and backed singer Big Maybelle. After being discharged in 1955, he attended the Cincinnati Conservatory for two years and played locally; in 1960, with the assistance of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, he started recording for Prestige. Peagler then recorded with Lem Winchester and joined his Modern Jazz Disciples, which recorded for Columbia. He moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to freelance, and spent 1966-1967 and 1969 with Ray Charles. He did some studio work and toured with Count Basie for seven years (1971-1978). Peagler then resettled in Los Angeles, freelanced, founded the Sea Pea Records label, and recorded as a leader for Sea Pea and Pablo, also guesting on dates by Harry "Sweets" Edison and Big Joe Turner. Curtis Peagler spent his last decade as a member of the Cheathams' Sweet Baby Blues Band, recording with the Kansas City swing-oriented group for Concord before heart trouble shortened his life.
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