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Frances Wayne

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Vocalist Frances Wayne recorded with the bands of Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman before joining a band formed by her husband, Neal Hefti (another Herman alum), beginning in the mid-'40s. Born in 1924, Wayne moved to New York as a teenager and sang with a group led by her brother, the saxophonist Nick Jerret. Shortly thereafter she began working with tenor saxophonist Charlie Barnet's band, recording a version of "That Old Black Magic" in 1942. She joined Woody Herman's big band -- Herman's Herd -- the next year. While with Herman, Wayne married arranger/trumpeter Neil Hefti, who wrote for the group. The couple left Herman in 1946, just prior to that band's breakup, and moved to California. In 1947 Wayne recorded as a soloist with Hefti's newly formed big band. She worked in clubs for a time, then curtailed her activities somewhat. She continued to work with Hefti in the early '50s. She also recorded as a solo artist, fronting small bop-based groups that included such musicians as pianist Hank Jones, bassist Milt Hinton, and saxophonists Jerome Richardson, Richie Kamuca, and Al Cohn. Wayne sang with Hefti's band again in 1975. She occasionally worked as a soloist in the years just prior to her death in 1978. ~ Chris Kelsey

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