George “Sonny” Cohn, lead trumpeter in the Count Basie Orchestra from 1960 to 1984, passed away in his hometown of Chicago on Nov. 7 at the age of 81. Considered one of Basie’s most loyal sidemen and known for his trademarked muted style, the clean-cut and responsible Cohn also spent about 20 years as the band’s road manager.
The consummate professional, Cohn appeared on over 185 albums dating back to the late ’40s, supporting such legends as Ella Fitzgerald, Big Joe Turner, Art Blakey, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington, besides numerous sides with Basie. After retiring from the Orchestra in the ’90s, he performed with Von Freeman and Jodie Christian. Cohn even played on his niece’s gospel album after undergoing bypass surgery in 2003.