To me Auld played an important role in the tenor saxophone history.
If you can listen to him at some point in time
I think it would provide a missing link to a style
that is very accesiable and vital to the sax and swing

On a personal note-if anyone has any of his jap. issue
recordings - I am very interested in getting any
kind of copys. Just E mail me.

CLOSE behind the tenor sax playing of Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and
Bud Freeman, came that of George Auld. The result is that their playing will be
remembered when Auld's could be sadly forgotten,
and yet he too was a jazz innovator
through the big bands that he led in the
Forties.And was one serious tenor man .

Coming to prominence in the Swing
era, he was one of the very few swing
musicians who managed to traverse
the ridge that Dizzy Gillespie and the
young moderns threw up between
swing and be-bop in the middle Forties.
While most of the swing musicians gave
up in the face of the new music, Auld
not only relished the challenge but
moved swiftly towards the top of the be-
bop ladder.

While his later work was
commercial, some of his recordings in
the mid-Forties, notably "Co-Pilot",
which features Dizzy Gillespie on
trumpet, were daring examples of big
band jazz, possessing values which
would escape the notice of the general
listener of the time.

Auld's family left his native Toronto
when he was 10 and moved to New
York in 1929. Studying alto sax,
he won a Rudy Weidoeft
Scholarship in 1931 and studied with
that famous teacher for nine months. In
1936 he was so affected by bearing
Coleman Hawkins's recording of
"Meditation" that he switched to
Hawkins's instrument, the tenor.

George had his own small group that
year at Nick's, one of New York's more
famous jazz nightclubs, and joined
Bunny Berigan's orchestra in 1937.
Auld's early experiences in the big band
world must have been rigorous since, on
leaving the everdrunk Berigan, he joined
the orchestra led by the brilliant clarinetist Artie Shaw
in 1939. No sooner had he settled in than
Shaw decided to give up the band and
that November the 20-year-old Auld
took it over and tried to run it himself,
but without a star name to draw the
customers, the orchestra was soon
forced to disband.

After a few months with Jan Savitt's
band, Auld joined Benny Goodman in
November 1940 and during the next
seven months with Benny made his
most famous recordings.

Most importantly, Auld was here
exposed to the work of Goodman's
guitarist Charlie Christian, one of the
young musicians who was probing his
way toward what was, in the hands of
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and
others, to become be-bop a few years
further on. Christian's use of
augmented and diminished chords was
unique in jazz at that time. Auld was a
receptive listener and Christian's
influence on him was profound.

After work with Goodman in
New York, Auld and Christian made their way
To a new after-hours club for musicians. This was
Minton's, proving ground for the new music. and it
Was here that Auld first met the young musicians whose
Thoughts were running along the same lines as
Christian's. They included Dizzy
Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Kenny

When Christian died some months
later, Auld left Goodman and joined
Artie Shaw's new band, but he
continued to explore the music that
Charlie and the others had opened up
to him, The unpredictable Shaw
disbanded again in January 1942, and
Auld led a group of his own until he
went into the army in 1943. For some
reason he was discharged, perhaps
because of a chest illness which was to
trouble him for many years, and from
June 1943 he led a quartet at The
Three Deuces in New York until, in
September that year, he formed his big

Auld's band lasted for two years and
was never amongst the best known but
it made many interesting records and
spanned a difficult period in jazz when
the roots of its arrangements were in
swing but its soloists in the be-bop era.
Big bands became uneconomic in the
post-war period, and Auld sensibly
paired his down to a sextet, probably
one of the best of all his bands. It
included the trumpeter Red Rodney,
the baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff,
the pianist George Wallington (later replaced by
Lou Levy), the bassist Curly Russell and
the brilliant drummer/composer Tiny Kahn.

George's illness caused him to break
up this band and he moved to Arizona
and finally to California for his health.
He reformed, this time with a nine-
piece devoted to the writing and style of
the great composer Tadd Dameron. In
1948 he joined Billy Eckstine's band and
in 1949 spent almost a year on
Broadway acting in the play The Rat
Race. At this time he also ran a club in
New York, the Tin Pan Alley, which
became a center for jam sessions. He
joined Count Basie's Octet briefly and
then formed a fine quintet in New York
in 1951 (with Levy, Russell and Kahn,
plus the young trombone virtuoso Frank
Rosolino). Auld began to shed his be-
bop overtones and returned to his
earlier Coleman Hawkins-influenced
manner. Returning to the West Coast in
1954, he opened another club, The
Melody Room in Hollywood.

Auld drifted into obscurity, but
bounced back when, for no good
reason, he became immensely popular
in Japan. He made more than a dozen
tours there beginning in 1964 and
recorded 16 albums for Japanese

In 1977 he appeared in the film New
and Liza Minelli. De Niro's role was as
York, New York with Robert De Niro
a saxophone player, and Auld played
the solos on the soundtrack as well as
having an acting part.

His link to the Colman Hawkins school of tough tenor
played a vital part in jazz and swing music.

John Altwerger (George Auld) bandleader, saxophone
And clarinet player, born Toronto, 19 May 1919, died
Las Vegas 7 January, 1990.