Jazz Flute Pioneer Sam Most Dies at 82

Influenced Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws and others

Sam Most, who pioneered the use of the flute in jazz, died June 13 in Woodland Hills, Calif., at age 82. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Born Dec. 16, 1930 in Atlantic City, N.J., and raised in the Bronx, Most was a respected saxophonist and flutist who’d played with Tommy Dorsey, Don Redman and others when, in 1952, he recorded a song called “Undercurrent Blues” that featured a flute. The instrument, up to that time, was rare in jazz and Most but increased in popularity due to the work of Most and others who followed in his footsteps, among them Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Among Most’s innovations was the device of humming or singing through the flute as he played.

Sam Most
Sam Most

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Most recorded under his own name for Prestige, Vanguard, Debut, Bethlehem, Xanadu and other labels, and was a member of Buddy Rich’s Orchestra between 1959 and 1961. He later relocated to Los Angeles and became a studio musician.

1 Comment

  • Jul 02, 2013 at 10:04AM Bruce Klauber

    Sam Most was brilliant. His work with the unique Buddy Rich small band of 1960-1961, where Sam played in tandem with vibist Mike Mainieri, was and is something to be heard. You can hear most of what this band did via the new, Fresh Sound release called "Playtime," which features the released and unreleased Argo recordings, plus a half-hour radio shot for the National Guard called "Let's Go to Town." And in line with this singular group, you must read the hilarious story about Sam and Buddy at The Cloisters in Maryland. This unbelievable anecdote is in Maria Judge's new book about her uncle, the great Jake Hanna.

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