Hal McKusick

A fine cool-toned altoist and an occasional clarinetist, Hal McKusick worked with the big bands of Les Brown, Woody Herman (1943), Boyd Raeburn (1944-1945), Alvino Rey (1946), Buddy Rich, and Claude Thornhill (1948-1949). In the 1950s, in addition to his work with Terry Gibbs and Elliot Lawrence, he was a busy and versatile studio musician. During 1955-1958, McKusick recorded nine albums of material as a leader for Jubilee, Bethlehem, Victor, Coral, New Jazz, Prestige, and Decca. Those small-group recordings, although basically cool bop, sometimes used very advanced arrangements, including charts by George Handy, Manny Albam, Gil Evans, Al Cohn, Jimmy Giuffre, and particularly George Russell. Hal McKusick died in April 2012 at the age of 87. ~ Scott Yanow

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