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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: Tenor Legacy

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42626


Two distinct styles on the tenor saxophone developed out of the Southwest; the first, a harsh, gruff approach favored by tenors such as Herschel Evans, was the musical progeny of Coleman Hawkins, the first great jazz tensor saxophonist. The other, lighter in tone, was the creation of Lester Young, a native of New Orleans who traveled extensively in his youth throughout the west and southwest as a member of his family’s band. Basie would play the two styles off against each other in “tenor” battles when Evans and Young were members of his band, and Young’s style would serve as the model for Charlie Parker on alto sax that would bring the development of Kansas City jazz to a close with the emergence of bebop.

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