Born: July 23, 1930 | Died: July 22, 1977 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Richie Kamuca - tenor saxophone - (1930 - 1977)
A superb tenor saxophonist who is another of those jazz musicians who deserved better recognition, Richie Kamuca had a reputation based on his tone, soloing capabilities and solid studio work.
Kamuca though from back east, was strongly associated with the west coast jazz scene, but before his move west he played and was a star soloist with Stan Kenton in 1953 and then Woody Herman from 1954 through ’56. It was with Herman’s outfit during 1955 that he was included in the famed Four Brothers that included Al Cohn and Bill Perkins, they recorded an album for RCA which is a classic.
His move to the west coast found him joining up with Chet Baker, Maynard Ferguson, the Lighthouse All-Stars (1957-1958), Shorty Rogers, and Shelly Manne, (1959-1961) with whom he appeared on the heralded album “At The Blackhawk” in 1959.
By 1962 he was back in New York, and working with Gerry Mulligan, Gary McFarland, and Roy Eldridge, (1966-1971) but after that he headed back to the west coast to steady studio work.
Richie Kamuca left us a brief but very distinguished recorded legacy whether as a sideman on albums, or on his own as leader. “Richie Kamuca Quartet,” (’57) with pianist Carl Perkins, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Stan Levey, is available on cd as a reissue from the VSOP label. His last dates as leader was “Jazz Erotica” (’58 on Hi Fi) then we fast forward to the three excellent sessions he did for Concord in 1977, that are now hard to obtain but really showcase his work with guitar players Mundell Lowe and Herb Ellis.