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Tenor Saxophonist Frank Vicari Dies

SOURCE: Published: 2006-10-27
Frank Vicari died in NYC, on Friday October 20 at 3:47 eastern time.

Although only known through specialized circles of jazz aficionados, saxophone legend Frank Vicari has truly earned the title of master. Starting on clarinet, Frank's dad influenced him to practice hard every day. When he was fourteen Frank added tenor sax to his repertoire and started hanging out in the Newark Jazz clubs with cats three times his age who gladly accepted the talented teenager into their group and showed him the ropes.

By the time Frank was 15 he joined the local union in order to be able to do gigs but when he was eighteen drafted into the Air Force where he played in various service bands from 1951-55. After serving in the Air Force Frank played around New York City where he rapidly became known as a respected musician and played in various ghost bands until 1960 when he was recruited by Maynard Ferguson for the lead tenor chair and where he remained until 1965. This band is said to be the pinnacle of Maynard's big band era.

After the Ferguson band was dismantled. Frank joined Buddy Rich but soon was convinced by Woody Herman to join him and his Thundering Herd in 1965. He remained as lead tenor player and eventual became the leader until 1970 when he moved to St. Thomas so he could play in small Jazz ensembles seven nights a week and just blow and escape the hectic New York music business.

Upon his return from St. Thomas Frank toured and recorded with Dave Matthews, White Elephant, J.Giles, George Benson, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Billy Eckstein, Tom Waits, John Lennon, and on the Saturday Night Live Band. Frank was also nominated for his solo on “Mary Ann" while with Maynard Ferguson.

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