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Al Belletto, New Orleans Saxophonist, Dead at 86

Worked with Louis Prima, Woody Herman and others

Al Belletto

Al Belletto, a saxophonist, clarinetist and bandleader who began his career in the 1940s in New Orleans, died Dec. 26 in Metairie, La. The cause of death was not reported. Belletto was 86.

Belletto led his own bands while in college, and later played with Louis Prima, Wingy Manone, the Dukes of Dixieland and others. In the late ’50s he became a member of Woody Herman’s band. In the ’60s he led the house band at the New Orleans Playboy Club. Belletto was known for his ability to switch between traditional jazz and more modern styles such as bebop.

Belletto first recorded as a leader for Capitol Records in 1955, releasing The Al Belletto Sextette, followed by two more albums for the label. Subsequently, he recorded for King Records, and the ART and Louisiana Red Hot labels. Although he spent some time in living in Chicago and New York, he worked primarily in his hometown.

Originally Published