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Jay Migliori Dies at 70

Jay Migliori, who was perhaps most famous to jazz fans as a founding member of the group Supersax but who also had an extensive, varied, and distinguished career as a session saxophonist, died of colon cancer on Sept. 2 in Los Angeles. He was 70.

Born in Erie, Pa., Migliori didn’t have much interest in jazz until his twelfth birthday, when his parents gave him an alto saxophone. Soon he fell in love with jazz, particularly the playing of Charlie Parker. He eventually played with more than two dozen bands, including ensembles led by Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, Terry Gibbs and Maynard Ferguson. He underwent cancer surgery six years ago, but kept up a five-night-a-week schedule in nightclubs and other venues until just six weeks before his death.

He once described his style as “modern acoustic jazz with roots in bebop,” and this style was flexible enough to fit in with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. Other notable artists Migliori played for include the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons, Glen Campbell, the Righteous Brothers, Ray Charles, and Celine Dion.

In 1972, Migliori helped found Supersax, an ensemble with five saxophonists, a brass soloist and a rhythm section. The group’s first album, Supersax Plays Bird, won a Grammy in 1973 for its intricate arrangements of improvised solos by Parker. Migliori also recorded four solo albums, including Jazz in Transition and Smile.

Migliori is survived by his wife Patti, four children, and two grandchildren.

Originally Published