Personalities | Wardell Gray | Forties | Jazz & Blues
(Tenor saxophone, 1921–55)
Wardell Gray died in mysterious, drug-related circumstances without fulfilling his immense potential. His control and invention at fast tempos and fluent, swinging style on the tenor saxophone adapted readily to both swing and bebop settings, while his ballad playing was strong in both emotion and tonal warmth. His sadly underweight recorded legacy is largely derived from live club dates and jam sessions, plus the two volumes of studio recordings issued by Prestige as Wardell Gray Memorial. Singer Annie Ross (and later Joni Mitchell) made vocalese hits based on his solos.
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