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Saxophonist Sam Falzone Dies at 79

Played with Don Ellis Orchestra, taught in Buffalo schools

Sam Falzone (in red) with members of the Don Ellis Orchestra at 2005 reunion

Sam Falzone, a saxophonist best known for his work with the Don Ellis Orchestra, died Sept. 22 in Getzville, N.Y., according to published obituaries in the Buffalo area. He was 79; a cause of death was not noted but Falzone had resided at Beechwood Continuing Care in Getzville.

Born Salvatore J. Falzone in Buffalo, he performed with the Air Force Band in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s. Then, after earning a degree in music education at Fredonia State College (where he majored in woodwinds, according to the Buffalo News), Falzone taught instrumental music in the Buffalo area.

Falzone relocated to California where he worked with musicians such as Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich, performing on television programs and at festivals and concerts. He also recorded music for films, including The French Connection, according to the Buffalo News article.

In addition to playing with Ellis and appearing on several of the group’s recordings, Falzone also served as the orchestra’s road manager.

In the 1970s, Falzone lectured about music at Buffalo State University and led the Buffalo Jazz Workshop. In 1984, he earned a master’s degree and later led the university’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Improvisation Class. He also taught in Buffalo public schools for several years. Falzone later founded the Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox series.

In 1988 he released an album as a leader, The Music of Sam Falzone-A Family “Sweet.”

Falzone performed until recently.

Originally Published