Sabby Lewis

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b. William Sebastien Lewis, 1 November 1914, Middleburg, North Carolina, USA, d. 9 July 1994, USA. Pianist Sabby Lewis entered the jazz world in the early 30s in Boston, Massachusetts, becoming leader…
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Artist Biography by

b. William Sebastien Lewis, 1 November 1914, Middleburg, North Carolina, USA, d. 9 July 1994, USA. Pianist Sabby Lewis entered the jazz world in the early 30s in Boston, Massachusetts, becoming leader of his own band in 1936. Although he rarely strayed far from Boston during the rest of his career, Lewis’ small groups and big bands were highly regarded among musicians. Many visiting band leaders, among them Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton, were eager to sit in with Lewis at such Boston nightspots as the Savoy Cafe whenever they were in town. Lewis’ bands were proving grounds for a number of youngsters who went on to become big names in their own right. Saxophonists Paul Gonsalves and Sonny Stitt, trumpeters Cat Anderson, Joe Gordon and Freddie Webster, drummers Alan Dawson, Jimmy Crawford and Roy Haynes are just a few who played for Lewis, usually early in their careers. Despite a hit record with ‘Bottoms Up’, which reworked Illinois Jacquet’s version of ‘Flying Home’, Lewis never made the national big-time, nor appeared to feel the need to do so. He continued to lead a big band well into the 50s and thereafter led smaller groups until the late 70s.