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Harold Ashby Dies

Saxophonist Harold Ashby, a Ben Webster acolyte who was long associated with Duke Ellington, died Friday, June 13 at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. No cause of death was specified, though Ashby had had a heart attack in late May. He was 78.

Born in 1925 in Kansas City, Mo., Ashby began on clarinet and alto saxophone in his teens. He gave up playing music altogether while serving in the Navy during World War II, but returned to music in 1946, this time on tenor, working in his hometown with blues reed player Tommy Douglas and singer Walter Brown. Ashby left home for Chicago in the early ’50s and made it to New York City in 1957.

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