Alto saxophonist and flutist Jimmy Vass emerged as one of the premier jazz sidemen of the 1970s, lending his sinuous tone and dynamic style to sessions headlined by Andrew Hill, Charles Earland, and Muhal Richard Abrams. Born March 31, 1937, in Philadelphia, Vass acquired his first saxophone at age 18. After honing his chops on the local club scene, he relocated to New York City in 1963, working a series of day jobs while moonlighting as a musician. Vass first appeared on record in 1968 via Sunny Murray's Hard Cores. With 1971's Soul Story, he began an extended collaboration with the great soul-jazz organist Earland, although his most notable partnership paired him with avant-jazz pianist Hill, beginning with 1975's Divine Revelation. Vass was an extraordinarily nimble and flexible player, comfortable in a host of musical settings. He even played on soul singer Roberta Flack's 1975 LP Feel Like Makin' Love. Sadly he never led a recording date of his own, but in the autumn of his career led his own New York-based group and also worked as a music instructor. Vass died September 21, 2006, at the age of 69.
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