Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Saxophonist Sam Butera Dies at 81

Sam Butera

Sam Butera, a tenor saxophonist whose earthy, often rowdy playing helped turn Louis Prima and Keely Smith into prime Las Vegas attractions, died Wednesday morning in Las Vegas, the Associated Press reports. The cause was pneumonia. He was 81.

Born in New Orleans, La., Butera eventually earned acclaim honking in a mid-century jump style that wed swing to R&B, but was influenced early on by jazzmen like Lester Young. While in his teens and twenties he played in the bands of Ray McKinley and Tommy Dorsey, respectively, and, inspired by R&B maven Paul Gayten, formed his own band that held a four-year residency at New Orleans’ 500 Club.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published