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Buddy DeFranco February 17,1923

New Jersey native Buddy DeFranco is widely considered one of the top jazz clarinetists. Paving the way for aspiring clarinetists, DeFranco began playing the clarinet at nine years old, in a time when the popularity of swing music and big bands was fading fast.

At fourteen, Buddy DeFranco managed his first brush with fame. After winning a national swing contest, Buddy appeared with Gene Krupa on Saturday Night Swing Club. His appearance lead to Johnny "Scat" Davis taking an interest in him and his abilities, and the two began a road career together in 1939.

In 1966, DeFranco was appointed the leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, a post he would hold until 1974. After leaving his position as the leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Buddy found fulfillment in conducting clinics, as well as concert and festival appearances all over the United States and Europe.

Throughout his illustrious career, DeFranco won twenty Downbeat Magazine Awards, sixteen Playboy All-Stars Awards, and nine Metronome Magazine Awards. Especially notable, DeFranco was awarded the title of "NEA JAZZ MASTER" by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006, recognizing DeFranco's unique and important contribution to the American Jazz tradition.


Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records the title track of his classic album "The Bridge."
February 14, 1962

Theodore "Sonny" Rollins was born in New York on September 7th, 1930. He grew up in Harlem, just around the corner from the Apollo Theatre. Rollins became known for his chops on the tenor saxophone that he began playing at the age of sixteen.

Sonny developed a reputation among musicians and fans alike as being the most creative young saxophonist on the scene. In 1959, after a rapid rise to fame, Sonny took a three year leave of absence to "perfect his craft". During his time alone, Sonny longed for a great place to practice. He decided a great place to be alone would be on the Williamsburg Bridge. He toted his saxophone onto the bridge and developed the solos that would eventually be recorded under the appropriate title, "The Bridge". In 1962 "The Bridge" the album was released, consisting mostly of material developed on the Williamsburg Bridge. Rollins was joined on his album by Jim Hall on guitar, Ben Riley on drums, and Bob Cranshaw on bass. This famous album has now been re-released in various formats many times. The album received a mixed review from musicians and fans however; InkBlot Magazine published "one of the greatest albums from one of jazz's greatest musicians" in favor of "The Bridge".