Hank Crawford

Hank Crawford was an alto sax sensation since he stepped out of the Ray Charles band back in 1963. A signature piercing, full bodied, blues, soul, and gospel drenched tone, sets him apart from the alto pack. He has an instantly recognizable voice, and his excellent choice of material suits his style perfectly. He is a bluesman turned preacher on the sax, and the sermon is always on time.

Bennie Ross Crawford Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 21, 1934, began formal piano studies at age nine and was soon playing for his church choir. His father had brought an alto saxophone home from the service and when Hank entered high school, he took it up in order to join the band. He credits Charlie Parker, Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges as early influences.

At school, he hung out with Phineas and Calvin Newborn, Booker Little, George Coleman, Frank Stozier and Harold Mabern—all of whom would go on to become important jazz figures. “We had a pretty good education just by being around each other,” Crawford says now.

Before he had finished high school, Hank was playing in bands led by Ben Branch, Tuff Green, Al Jackson, Sr. and Ike Turner. They were frequently called upon to back such up-and-coming blues singers as B. B. King, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace and Roscoe Gordon and the Palace Theatre, the Club Paradise and other Memphis venues.

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