b. Wilton Gaynair, 11 January 1927, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, d. 13 February 1995, Germany. Early in his career Gaynair played tenor saxophone in bands in his homeland. In the mid-50s he moved to Europe and into jazz. He played with Dizzy Reece in London, then became resident in Germany where he extended his musical understanding through the study of composition and arranging, and also played with many important German musicians as well as visiting jazz stars from the USA and UK. With Ellsworth ‘Shake’ Keane he was a member of Kurt Edelhagen’s orchestra, and he was co-founder of Third Eye which included Kenny Wheeler and Alan Skidmore.
A fluent improviser in the hard-bop mould, Gaynair continued to perform into the early 80s but in 1983, while playing with Peter Herbolzheimer, he suffered a stroke. Although much of his career was spent outside the international spotlight, Gaynair built a small but dedicated body of critical approval, including several long-time advocates such as jazz writer Val Wilmer. Gaynair played with a full-throated sound yet retained a melodic approach to his interpretations. If there were sometimes hints of John Coltrane in his playing, these were comfortably subordinated to his personal conceptions of his music.