In today’s Washington Post, Matt Schudel writes about Frank Wess. The 86-year-old tenor saxophonist and flutist is still active and about to play in Washington, D.C., where he spent much of his early career. Schudel quotes pianist Billy Taylor, Wess’s contemporary, about the saxophonist’s influence on him when they were in high school together.
“He’s the reason I don’t play the tenor saxophone,” Taylor says. “I was going to try to be the new Ben Webster,” the tenor saxophonist who worked with another notable Washington jazzman, Duke Ellington.
Then Taylor heard Wess, and he decided to stick with the piano.
“Even in his teens, he was really a remarkable player,” he says.
To read all of Schudel’s article, click here.
Wess was a principal arranger and soloist in Count Basie’s band during the 1950s and early ’60s. In this video clip, he solos on his composition “Corner Pocket,” following trumpeters Thad Jones and Al Aarons.