Cecil Payne Biography

Cecil McKenzie Payne, 14 December 1922, New York City, New York, USA, d. 27 November 2007, Camden, New Jersey, USA. After first learning guitar, alto saxophone and clarinet, Payne took up the baritone saxophone. In 1946, a year in which he played and recorded with J.J. Johnson and Roy Eldridge, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band for a three-year stint. Leaving Gillespie in 1949 he joined Tadd Dameron’s band, following this with appearances with James Moody and Illinois Jacquet. In the mid-50s he played with Randy Weston, John Coltrane and Duke Jordan. During the 60s he was with Machito, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Count Basie and Gillespie again. In the 70s he worked again for Basie and also formed a double-act with his vocalist sister, Cavril. In the 80s he played in a trio with Bill Hardman and led by Richard Wyands, and recorded regularly as a leader into the new millennium.

An accomplished player with a special affinity for bebop, Payne’s technical command was on a par with that of many better-known players, whose greater charisma kept them more in the public eye.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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