Paul Quinichette Biography

17 May 1916, Denver, Colorado, USA, d. 25 May 1983, New York City, New York, USA. After formally studying clarinet and alto saxophone, Quinichette switched to tenor saxophone. He played in a number of local and territory bands, notably that led by Nat Towles. Amongst the outfits with which he played in the early 40s were those led by Jay McShann, Benny Carter and Johnny Otis. Later in the decade he was active in New York, playing and recording with Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington, Lucky Millinder and others, and in the early 50s he worked with Count Basie. Included in his recordings of this period are concert performances with Washington released asThe Jazz Sides (1954-58). In the mid-50s Quinichette played briefly with Benny Goodman, John Coltrane and Nat Pierce but then drifted out of music for several years.

In the 70s Quinichette was back on the jazz scene but, plagued by poor health, he made little impact. During the late 40s and early 50s Quinichette attracted attention because of similarities in tone and style to Lester Young, even picking up the nickname ‘Vice-Pres’. The resemblance was deliberate and when he was at his best was more than merely superficial. Nevertheless, such comparisons were damaging to Quinichette’s career and he rarely overcame the link for long enough to establish a strong personal identity. In retrospect he can be seen as a fine, lyrical and always swinging player; had he not suffered a hiatus in his career, he might well have been able to overcome the disadvantage of following so closely upon Young’s unique path.

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

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