The Unbelievable George Young

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George Young was one of those reed players that my generation of commercial woodwind doublers grew up in awe of. His prowess as a saxophonist is extraordinary, a virtuoso following in the footsteps of legendary players such as Rudy Wiedoeft, Jimmy Dorsey, Sigurd Rascher, Earl Bostic, Al Gallodoro, and Jimmy Abato. However, George is more than just a carbon copy of these artists. He has carved out his own unique path with distinctive sounds on soprano, alto & tenor saxophones that reach across many musical genres. In addition, his command of the flute & clarinet along with his ability to play eloquently in all styles helped place him at the top of the New York studio scene for over 30 years. This interview was one that I had been hoping to do for several years and the ability to conduct this interview through Zoom made it all possible. George was a very engaging interviewee and shared numerous stories of his childhood growing up in Philadelphia and studying with Carl Waxman; the formative years as a professional heading his group, The George Young Revue; his work as a first-call New York studio musician; and George’s philosophies regarding music. During the course of our time, he referenced numerous musicians who influenced him during his career and whom he loved and respected. These included Romeo Penque, Phil Bodner, Danny Bank, Frank Wess, Lawrence Feldman, Bernie Glow, Buddy Savitt, among others. I think you will find George’s words of wisdom as well as the accompanying audio and video clips mesmerizing. After listening, I’m sure you will understand why Columbia Records subtitled George’s first two releases as a leader: “The Greatest Saxophone in the World.” Please also check out his website at:

*Note: At roughly 42:40 of the video, there will be a banner that appears at the top right hand corner indicating that there is additional music featuring George from that same tv appearance. PLEASE CLICK ON IT—YOU WILL BE AMAZED! After watching that clip, you will need to scroll back to continue the video interview.

About the Artist: George Ernest Opalisky, Jr (George Young) has been one of the most admired and recorded woodwind musicians during his long career. Somewhat of a childhood prodigy, George was fronting his own groups in his teens and performing with them in top venues in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York and throughout the U.S. By 25, he had recorded his first two albums as a leader for Columbia Records and been the saxophone soloist on many of the most successful early rock & roll hits of the late 1950s/early 1960s. His fluency in jazz, fusion, commercial, classical as well as rock enabled him to quickly establish himself as a mainstay of the New York studio scene. He has worked with EVERYONE! Some of these performers include Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Clapton, Frankie Valli, Luciano Pavarotti, John Lennon, George Benson, Paul Simon, David Matthews, Steve Gadd, Dave Holland, Toots, Thielemans, Quincy Jones, The Saturday Night Live Band, James Taylor, Barry Manilow, Madonna, Louie Bellson & Benny Goodman, etc. In addition, he has recorded numerous movie scores & jingles; 10 albums as a leader; and performed on hundreds of live concerts and record dates. Living in Camarillo, California for the past 20 years, George continues to practice and write music while performing with his own group. He still considers himself a student of the discipline of music and remains an inspiration to all “wood-winders.”


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