Saxophonist Hal McKusick [pictured] and I talk often by phone. During one of our recent chats, I asked him for some of his favorite musicians in the '40s and '50s who aren't well known today by many jazz fans. Here's Hal's list of little-known players he admired and his brief comments:
- Angelo Tompros—"I knew him in Boyd Raeburn's band in '44. A gorgeous sound on tenor."
- Ben Lary—"We were in Buddy Rich's band together in '48. An unbelievable sound, like Zoot Sims' and Al Cohn's."
- Johnny Andrews—"We were in Claude Thornhill's band together in '49. He also had a beautiful, smooth sound on tenor."
- Tony Fruscella—"We played together at Gene DiNovi's house out in Brooklyn in '52. Tony was a gifted lyrical player on the trumpet, along the lines of Art Farmer, Clark Terry and Miles Davis."
- Jerry Hurwitz—"He was another pretty trumpeter who played out at DiNovi's house. But he left the business early. Years later, I got in a cab on my way to a recording session and there was Jerry, driving. Not everyone who was great made it in the business over time, for one reason or another."