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Frank Wess, Saxophonist and Flutist, Dies at 91

Played with Count Basie and many others in seven-decade career

Frank Wess performing at the Concert to Benefit the James Moody Scholarship for Newark Youth
Frank Wess and Benny Golson at the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters awards
Frank Wess

Frank Wess, whose career as a saxophonist and flutist began prior to World War II and was still going strong seven decades later, died yesterday, Oct. 30, it was confirmed by NPR’s A Blog Supreme. The cause of death was kidney failure. Wess was 91.

Wess, who recently released a new album, Magic 101, recorded in 2011, was born Jan. 4, 1922 in Kansas City, Mo., where, at age 10, he began playing alto saxophone. He would later add tenor sax, flute and clarinet and began working professionally in Washington, D.C. Following a stint in the Army he led singer Josephine Baker’s band and also played with Lucky Millinder, Billy Eckstine and others.

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