Jerry Dodgion: A Career Retrospective

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Jerry Dodgion was the first great lead alto saxophonist I experienced in a live setting when he headed the formidable saxophone section of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra beginning in the early 1970s. He made it all seem so easy and fun at the same time and I’ve never heard a better saxophone section for blend, balance and swing. Admired universally by all generations of musicians for his sophisticated and elegant approach to jazz improvisation, Jerry is also known as a great team player, colleague, multi-woodwind recording artist, and raconteur of stories. He has performed with seemingly every major player—from Louis Armstrong to Benny Goodman to Herbie Hancock—in addition to being a member of some of the most important big bands of the last 60 years. I’m thrilled to offer Jerry’s insights into woodwinds, the music business and life. I think you’ll find it very helpful and enjoyable at the same time.

*On 2/17/23, this wonderful man and musician passed away. We have lost more than a great human being. Jerry represented the dignity and elegance in life that we all strive to achieve but few attain. RIP Jerry and Thank You!

About the Artist: Jerry grew up in northern California and began working in the San Francisco area as a young professional. He performed with many name bands on the west coast including Gerald Wilson, Red Norvo, and Benny Carter, before moving to New York in the early 1960s. Due to his prowess on the single reeds and his ability to fit into any musical situation, he became a first-call studio player while still maintaining his jazz roots in live performances, recordings and tours. His longtime affiliation with the most important jazz big band of the last 50 years—The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra—highlights a career of playing in name big bands led by Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Pearson, Oliver Nelson, Charles Mingus, Quincy Jones, etc. His love of the saxophone and the saxophone section is best demonstrated in his recent CD, The Joy Of Sax, which features many of Jerry’s compositions and arrangements. At 82 years old, he still maintains his passion for playing music.


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