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Tommy Whittle

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One of Britain's most highly respected mainstream saxophonists, Whittle has played with most of the U.K.'s finest, including Ronnie Scott, Ted Heath, Kenny Wheeler, and Joe Temperley. Whittle began playing the clarinet at age 12 and switched to tenor saxophone a year later. He worked with Johnny Claes, Lew Stone, Harry Hayes, and Carl Barriteau in the mid '40s. He joined Heath's swing band in 1946 and stayed through 1952. He worked with the BBC Show Band in the '50s, and also led his own group performing in London nightclubs. Whittle led an octet that included Temperley and Wheeler, worked freelance, and toured the U.S.A. and France with his quartet in the latter half of the '50s. Whittle has been the musical director at the Dorchester Hotel in London. He's also played in Jack Parnell's orchestra and toured with Benny Goodman. Whittle remains active as of this writing, usually leading a band that includes his wife, singer Barbara Jay. ~ Chris Kelsey

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13 October 1926 in Grangemouth, Stirling, Scotland

Years Active: