13 Songs, 1 Hour, 6 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews




What you have in your hands is an invitation to enjoy the living legacy of one of the authentic innovators in jazz music. Born in 1930, Sam Most's professional career started in the late forties, when he played with the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey, Boyd Raeburn, and Don Redman, gaining experience for his first session as a leader, which would take place in 1953. By then, and although he was equally conversant with the tenor saxophone and the clarinet, he was also a brilliant flutist ¬– later on, the flute would be his main instrument.

Dubbed by legendary jazz critic Leonard Feather as “the father of jazz flute,” Sam was, back in the 50s, one of the first musicians to introduce the flute as a prime jazz instrument, which until then only had, if any at all, a secondary place among wind instruments in jazz instrumentation. Although some early ragtime arrangements included parts for flute and piccolo, the flute, because of its low volume and “thin” sound, was not commonly used in jazz ensembles until the 1920s, and did not truly emerge as a solo instrument until the early 50s.

Already established as a multi-woodwind player, Sam worked largely in different settings from the 1950s onwards, releasing albums as a leader and along with jazz luminaries such as Paul Quinichette, Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, Louis Bellson and Buddy Rich, to name only a few. Even though he came to be very popular within the jazz scene (a telling fact about this is that, by that time, jazz flute fans were divided into two “rival” factions, supporting either him or the other famous flutist of the time, Herbie Mann), later on Sam moved to LA and mainly worked as a studio musician rarely recording under his own name.

So this is why this album must be fully, doubly celebrated: for the music it features, which is simply beautiful, and because it presents the very “father of jazz flute” in its complete, most lyrical dimension, still burning at the age of 70.

Offering an interesting program which combines be-bop tunes and well-known standards, the album kicks off with pianist Bob Dorough’s classic, Devil May Care, and from the very first notes any doubt regarding Most’s sidemen for this session immediately vanishes. Both Benjamin May on the bass and Mark Waggoner on guitar conform a formidable rhythmic engine, providing the perfect beat for Sam’s melodic inventiveness throughout the entire album. Just as pianists Nat “King” Cole and Ahmad Jamal used to do with their acclaimed trios, here Sam gets rid of any drumming or percussion, and leads the bass and the guitar into a swinging excursion that includes heated numbers like Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca or Charlie Parker’s My Little Suede Shoes and Anthropology, building a truly contagious, danceable swing (and again, without a drummer!).

Sam’s powerful, at times rasping attack remains as impressive as ever, showing a perfect command of his instrument that enables him to improvise at ease, both in fast and slow numbers.

Calmer moments come, and Sam offers his most gentle side in At the End of the Night (producer Fernando Gelbard’s and Argentinean singer-composer Chico Novarro’s contribution) and But Beautiful, which opens with a heartfelt intro by May playing bowed, cello-like bass at a very slow tempo.

As the music unfolds, more familiar melodies arise; their inner beauty is transformed into something new by these artists’ talent. Indeed, it doesn’t matter that we have already listened to these and the rest of the tunes hundreds of times before. As true creators do, Sam still finds new ways to express himself with originality and spontaneity, delivering meaningful messages through these pieces that form a whole tradition. A tradition that he, certainly, has enormously helped to build.

Miguel Bronfman

Jazz critic for the daily Buenos Aires Herald

An interesting album, to be certain.


The blend of literature in this album is breathtaking and very fullfilling. From Charlie Parker to a relatively unpredictable version of Waltz for Debbie, Most deliver's on a good album. (He seems to LOVE Dizzy.)

When you first listen to him, his tone on the flute stands out as an urban sound; one that is hip and that stands out as a clear jazz voice. However, after listening to the entire album, the listener longs for some real, strong, and clear sounds. The "YEAH!" moment never arrives because Most's sound is so distracting and thin.

A great listen, but don't let your friends in the flute studio get a hold of it, or it may drive them to drink.

Sam was outstanding when I heard him live...


That was when he was working with the Carpenters at Kings Castle (1970-71?) in North Lake Tahoe. It was in a little bowling alley lounge nearby that Sam would bring a trio with him to jam after the show. I had never heard a flute sound so good. No one from the bowling alley outside came in. Different type of crowd, but great for me because there was no distractive talking going on. His playing was incredibly inventive, so much so that I still remember its affect on me to this day! But his sound on this album does'nt do him justice. Not at all like what I heard then.

About Sam Most

One of the first great jazz flutists, a cool-toned tenor, and a fine (if infrequent) clarinetist, Sam Most was the younger brother of clarinetist Abe Most. He picked up early experience playing with the orchestras of Tommy Dorsey (1948), Boyd Raeburn, and Don Redman. By the time he led his first session (1953), Most was a brilliant flutist (among the first to sing through his flute) and he briefly had the jazz field to himself. Most recorded fine sessions for Prestige, Debut (reissued on Xanadu), Vanguard, and Bethlehem during 1953-1958, doubling on clarinet. He also worked in different settings with Chris Connor, Paul Quinichette, and Teddy Wilson. After playing with Buddy Rich's Orchestra (1959-1961), he moved to Los Angeles and became a studio musician. Sam Most worked with Red Norvo and Louie Bellson, gained some new prominence with his Xanadu recordings of 1976-1979, and became a local fixture in Los Angeles, sometimes playing in clubs with his brother. Most died of cancer in June 2013; he was 82 years old. ~ Scott Yanow

Atlantic City, NJ
December 16, 1930



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