After a long battle with cancer, baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola died on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Albany Medical Center, Albany, N.Y. He was 65.
Born July 17, 1936, Brignola was a perennial poll-winner who, like his stylistic brothers of the baritone, Gerry Mulligan, Harry Carney and Pepper Adams, understood the power of his unwieldy instrument. But Brignola began his reed exploits on the wieldier clarinet, taking up the licorice stick at age 11, and eventually adding alto and tenor sax and flute to his arsenal. It was at age 20, however, that Brignola picked up his hulking baritone. He didn’t intend to play baritone sax, but when his alto was being repaired the only loner sax the store had was the smaller horn’s big brother.