Frank Wess

One of the first major jazz flutists, Frank Wess has also been a top Lester Young-influenced tenorman, an expert first altoist, and an occasional composer/arranger -- certainly a valuable man to have around. Early on he toured with Blanche Calloway, served in the military, and had stints with Billy Eckstine Orchestra (1946), Eddie Heywood, Lucky Millinder, and R&B star Bull Moose Jackson. That was all just a prelude to Wess' important period with Count Basie's big band, from 1953-1964. His flute playing, so expertly utilized in Neal Hefti's arrangements, gave the Basie Orchestra a fresh new sound, and his cool-toned tenor contrasted well with the more passionate sound of fellow tenor Frank Foster; Wess also had opportunities to play alto with the classic big band. Since that time, Wess has freelanced in countless settings, playing with Clark Terry's big band, the New York Quartet (with Roland Hanna) during the second half of the 1970s, Dameronia (1981-1985), and Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band, and has also had occasional reunions with Frank Foster. Frank Wess has led sessions for Commodore (1954), Savoy, Prestige, Moodsville, Pablo (with Foster), Progressive, Uptown, Concord, and Town Crier.
Scott Yanow, Rovi