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Ted Nash

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Not to be confused with the swing-playing uncle he was named after, the younger Ted Nash is a tenor and alto saxophonist who has played a lot of hard bop and post-bop but has also been comfortable in some more experimental avant-garde situations. Nash grew up in Los Angeles, where he was first exposed to jazz as a child thanks to his abovementioned uncle (a jazz reedman/studio player who was known for his associations with Les Brown in the 1940s and Henry Mancini in the 1960s) and his father, trombonist Dick Nash. Nash started playing piano at the age of seven before learning the clarinet at 12 and the alto sax at 13. As a high-school student, he studied jazz improvisation with vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake and got his first real break when, at 16, he was hired by Lionel Hampton for a one-week gig in Hawaii. By the time he reached 17, Nash had played lead alto for Quincy Jones' band and was performing regularly with the bands of Louie Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Don Ellis. After turning 18 in 1978, Nash recorded his first date as a leader, Conception, for Concord Jazz and made a permanent move to New York (where he soon became a member of the Gerry Mulligan Big Band). The saxman remained busy in the 1980s, when he was featured as a sideman on albums by Shoemake and Shelly Manne before joining the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and working as a both a soloist and arranger for that unit. The 1990s found him leading his own quartet and working as a sideman for Louie Bellson, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano, and bassist Ben Allison. It was Allison who hired Nash for the Herbie Nichols Project, a band dedicated to interpreting the music of the great but underexposed bop pianist Herbie Nichols. In the 1990s, Nash recorded as a leader for Mapleshade and the French Elabeth label. After the turn of the millennium he has recorded as both a leader and sideman for Palmetto. ~ Alex Henderson

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28 December 1959

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s