Cecil Payne

Cecil Payne (born December 14, 1922) is a jazz baritone saxophonist born in Brooklyn, NY. Payne can also play the alto saxophone and flute. He has played with other jazz greats, such as Illinois Jacquet, Machito, Woody Herman, Randy Weston, Duke Jordan, Wynton Kelly, Kenny Dorham, Harold Mabern and Count Basie, in addition to his solo work as bandleader.

Payne received his first saxophone at age 13, asking his father for one after hearing Honeysuckle Rose by Count Basie, performed by Lester Young. Payne took lessons from a local alto sax player, Pete Brown.

Payne began his professional recording career with J.J. Johnson on the Savoy label in 1946. During that year he was also began playing with Roy Eldridge, through whom he met Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie hired him and he stayed onboard until 1949, heard performing solos on “Ow!” and “Stay On It”. In the early 1950s he found himself working with Tadd Dameron, and worked with Illinois Jacquet from 1952 to 1954. He then started freelance work in New York and frequently performed during this period with Randy Weston with whom Payne worked with until 1960. His earlier recordings would largely fall under the swing category.

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