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Frank Wess


Among the initial main jazz flutists, Frank Wess was also a high Lester Young-influenced tenor guy, an expert initial altoist, and an intermittent composer/arranger — certainly a very important man to get around. In early stages he toured with Blanche Calloway, offered in the armed forces, and acquired stints using the Billy Eckstine Orchestra (1946), Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder, and R&B superstar Bull Moose Jackson. Which was all only a prelude to Wess’ essential period with Count number Basie’s big music group, from 1953-1964. His flute playing, therefore expertly employed in Neal Hefti’s agreements, provided the Basie Orchestra a brand new new audio, and his cool-toned tenor contrasted well using the even more passionate audio of fellow tenor Frank Foster; Wess also acquired possibilities to play alto using the traditional big music group. Wess eventually freelanced in countless configurations, using Clark Terry’s big music group, the brand new York Jazz Quartet (with Roland Hanna) through the second fifty percent of the 1970s, Dameronia (1981-1985), and Toshiko Akiyoshi’s big music group, and also acquired periodic reunions with Frank Foster. Frank Wess led periods for Commodore (1954), Savoy, Prestige, Moodsville, Pablo (with Foster), Intensifying, Uptown, Concord, and City Crier. He passed away of a coronary attack at age 91 in Manhattan on Oct 30, 2013.

Quick Facts

Full Name Frank Wess
Died October 30, 2013, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Education Dunbar High School
Nationality American
Music Groups Count Basie Orchestra
Music Songs Rainy Afternoon, Monday Stroll, Star Eyes, Cold Miner, You Made a Good Move, The Summer Knows, Blue Monk, It's So Peaceful in the Country, Frankosis, Blues for Butterball, Gin's Beguine, There Is No Greater Love, Whistle Stop, Kansas City Side, Lover Come Back to Me, The Monster, Part 2, Swinging The Blues: The Kid From Red Bank, But Beautiful, Wess Side, The Monster, Part 1, Embraceable You, Swinging The Blues: Corner Pocket, Lord Prepare Me, Blues for David, Get on Board, Spring Is Here, A Cottage for Sale, The Dock of the Bay, Blues for a Playmate, The Lizard, Menage a Bleu, Wessward Ho
Albums The Frank Wess Quartet, Jazz For Playboys, Flute of the Loom, Southern Comfort, Ella and Basie!, Opus In Swing, North, South, East... Wess, Two at the Top, Magic 201, Yo Ho! Poor You, Little Me, Flutes & Reeds, Opus De Blues, Going Wess, Hank and Frank II, Jazz Is Busting Out All Over, North, South, East, Wess and No Count, The Spirit of Charlie Parker, Wess Point, Menage a Bleu (feat. Joey DeFrancesco, Paul Bollenback, Byron Landham), Jazz Legends: Frank Wess, Vol. 1, All That Jazz, Vol. 82: Cool Flutes – Frank Wess & Friends (Remastered 2017), Blue Skies, Playboy, Blue Jelly, Remastered Hits (All Tracks Remastered), Trombones (Remastered 2016), Remastered Hits Vol. 2 (All Tracks Remastered), Four Classic Albums (Opus in Swing / Wheelin' & Dealin' / After Hours / Southern Comfort), Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart (The Hit Collection), Highlights Of Frank Wess, Once Is Not Enough, Tenor Sax & Flute Essentials, Holy Nights with Frank Wess, The Very Best of Frank Wess, Trombones & Flute / Opus De Blues / Yo Ho!, Poor You, Little Me, Jazz After Midnight (feat. Jazz After Midnight), Star Eyes, Sugar Dugar, The Jazz Masters Collection (Jazz Recordings Remastered), Reminder, Christmas Moments with Frank Wess, Frank Wess in Christmas Wonderland, Pin Up, Magic 101, Jazz Box (The Jazz Series)
Movies Count Basie: Then as Now, Count's the King

  • Facts
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1 Survivors included Sara Tsutsumi, his common law wife.
2 He was a member of Clark Terry's big band from 1967 into the 1970s.
3 Renowned for establishing the flute as a jazz instrument.
4 He performed with Billy Eckstine, Eddie Heywood, and Lucky Millinder in the 1940s, and from June 1953 to August 1964 he was a member of Count Basie's big band, in which he played saxophone. He recorded music with Thad Jones, Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, Kenny Burrell, Dorothy Ashby, and Etta Jones. He performed in Broadway shows and studio bands for television. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, he worked with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, Buck Clayton, Benny Carter, Billy Taylor, Harry Edison, Mel Tormé, Ernestine Anderson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Louie Bellson, John Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Dick Hyman, Byron Stripling, Jane Jarvis, and Frank Vignola.
5 American flutist and tenor and alto saxophonist who grew up in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and in Washington, DC.

Music Department

Music Department

Everyone Says I Love You 1996 musician: reeds
Mighty Aphrodite 1995 musician: Dick Hyman Orchestra
Diana Ross Live! The Lady Sings... Jazz & Blues: Stolen Moments 1992 TV Special documentary musician: alto sax
Alan & Naomi 1992 musician: saxophone



Sweet and Lowdown 1999 Club Musician (as Frank Wellington Wess)



My Elegy 1984 Video Himself - Alto Saxophone
Strive for Jive 1993 Video Himself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards 2014 TV Special Himself - Flutist / Saxophonist (In Memoriam)

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