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June 13, 2010


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Hi Marc, Thanks for the tribute to Danny Bank. I used to play with Danny in the American Jazz Orchestra and Loren Schoenberg Big Band. Danny was an incredible player and beautiful gentleman. Being a bassist, I was always knocked out by Danny's sound and powerful presence, especially when I had a unison line with the baritone. He anchored the whole big band from his spot way over on the end of the sax section. He was always very gracious and willing to talk and share stories . . . and he had a lot of them. Danny will always be regarded with fond memories by all the musicians who had the honor to play with him.

David Langner

I heard Danny Bank play with the AJO twenty years ago and remember the concert - and the sound of that sax section - to this day. And speaking of Jack Cortner, his first CD "Fast Track," is also first rate. You can buy it here:


Most biographies of Danny Bank begin with his work in the bands of Barnet and Shaw...and I must admit the first time I became aware of him was on 1949's Cu-Ba, which I had on 78. That and Pan Americana were very strange records for this hayseed kid in Western New York. But I like to emphasize what Danny did to Benny Goodman's whole notion of a big band, in 1945. I believe Benny finally had added a baritone a year earlier, in the person of Caceres I think...but he always wanted his saxophones light, and undoubtedly had held off expanding because the instrument might drag the section down. When Danny came on board, he turned out able to play even lighter than Benny...and a revolution in the Goodman band's sound began. With Sauter and Powell charts, BG's band often sounded like a classical chamber group---and I never tire of introducing people to Benny's records of the period, right up to the bop Capitols. I think Danny Bank was---er---instrumental in encouraging Benny to move along.

Of course Danny could be heavy too. When I heard the bass clarinet sounds on Lady In Satin, I thought it was Dolphy on the date.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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