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Al Sears

It really is ironic that tenor saxophonist Al Sears’ one hit, “Castle Rock and roll,” was recorded under Johnny Hodges’ name (the altoist is virtually absent within the record), denying Sears his one opportunity at popularity. Sears had in fact had his 1st important work in 1928 changing Hodges using the Chick Webb music group. However, despite organizations with Elmer Snowden (1931-1932), Andy Kirk (1941-1942), Lionel Hampton (1943-1944), and along with his personal groups (the majority of 1933-1941), it had been not really until Sears became a member of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra in 1944 that he started to obtain much interest. His distinctive shade, R&B-ish phrasing, and capability to build up thrilling solos produced him among Ellington’s most colourful soloists through the following five years, although his period was overshadowed by both his forerunner (Ben Webster) and his successor (Paul Gonsalves). Among Sears’ many recordings with Ellington are significant variations of “I Ain’t Got Only the Blues” along with a 1945 remake of “It Don’t Mean something.” Sears caused Johnny Hodges’ group during 1951-1952, documented a number of R&B-oriented materials in the 1950s, and trim two exceptional albums for Swingville in 1960 prior to going into semi-retirement.

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