Baritone Saxophonist Nick Brignola Dies


Baritone Sax great Nick Brignola died at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., on Feb. 8, after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.

A big-toned baritone saxophonist whose greatest baritone influence was Harry Carney of the Duke Ellington band (who became his mentor), Brignola carved out his niche as perhaps the premier player of the big horn in the hard-bop mainstream of the music.

Brignola was born July 17, 1936, in Troy, N.Y. He studied at Ithaca College and Berklee and worked in the upstate New York region in the ‘50s with Herb Pomeroy and Reese Markewich, moved to the West Coast to play with Cal Tjader and the Mastersounds, then with Woody Herman’s band in 1963, followed by a stint with Sal Salvador in 1963-‘64.

In 1964, he moved back to his home area of Troy, Albany and Schenectady and began working with his own groups, had his own radio show and lectured and performed in area colleges. Since his sideman work with Ted Curson in 1967, Brignola largely led his own combos, recording for his own Priam label, then Beehive, Interplay, Sea Breeze, Discovery and, over more than the last decade, for Reservoir.

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