One of the first major jazz flutists, Frank Wess was also a top Lester Young-influenced tenor man, an expert first altoist, and an occasional composer/arranger -- certainly a valuable man to have around. Early on he toured with Blanche Calloway, served in the military, and had stints with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra (1946), Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder, and R&B star Bull Moose Jackson. That was all just a prelude to Wess' important period with Count Basie's big band, from 1953-1964. His flute playing, so expertly utilized in Neal Hefti's arrangements, gave the Basie Orchestra a fresh new sound, and his cool-toned tenor contrasted well with the more passionate sound of fellow tenor Frank Foster; Wess also had opportunities to play alto with the classic big band. Wess subsequently freelanced in countless settings, playing with Clark ...
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