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Ray Pizzi

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One of the few great jazz bassoonists and a multi-reedist who is quite versatile, Ray Pizzi has long been underrated but is a valuable asset to any session where he appears. Pizzi started out on the clarinet and during the first half of the 1960s studied at the Boston Conservatory and the Berklee School of Music. Pizzi toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1966 but spent most of the time (1964-1969) as a schoolteacher in Massachusetts. In 1969 when he moved to California, Pizzi became a full-time musician, working extensively in the studios and with countless jazz all-stars including Shelly Manne, Willie Bobo, Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Bellson, and many top local players. In addition, Pizzi became and has remained a busy jazz educator. As a leader he has recorded for various labels, including Pablo and Discovery, and he is on the recordings of many pop artists, including Michael Bublé and Gladys Knight. Pizzi's bassoon and/or saxophones can also be heard on the scores and soundtracks of numerous Hollywood features and TV shows, including the famous cantina scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

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19 January 1943 in Everett, MA

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s