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Joe Holiday

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While not as well-known as Stan Getz, this tenor saxophonist has had a similar career, minus the psychological torture. Born Joseph Befumo in Sicily during the mid-'20s, he was a hard bopper whose commercial career took off when he mastered and began recording a world music style, in this case the mambo. A single in this style, enthusiastically entitled "This Is Happiness," was a hit in 1951, a status that not surprisingly led to more recording opportunities, including a series of sessions for Prestige featuring top modern jazz players such as drummer Max Roach and pianist Billy Taylor. Vocalist supreme Sarah Vaughan also did well recording Holiday's original composition "Serenada." His father was a clarinetist who moved his family to New York City when Holiday was about a half a year in age. Based out of Newark, the saxophonist began leading his own combos as early as the mid-'40s. Holiday's initial recording sessions were done for the King outfit at the outset of the subsequent decade. He featured percussion heavily on his recording dates, wisely making use of players from Machito's Afro-Cubans. Mambo Jazz, a CD of his Prestige sessions, was reissued in 1994. Holiday also has great talent as an abstract painter, some of his canvases using jazz musicians as a theme. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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Birth Name:

Joseph Befumo


10 May 1925 in Sicily, Italy

Years Active:

'40s, '50s