Cecil Payne

Birth name Cecil Payne
Born December 14, 1922
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States

Died November 27, 2007 (aged 84)
Genres Bebop
Hard bop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Baritone saxophone
Alto saxophone

Cecil Payne (December 14, 1922 – November 27, 2007) was an American jazz baritone saxophonist born in Brooklyn, New York. Payne also played the alto saxophone and flute. He played with other prominent jazz musicians, in particular Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston, in addition to his solo work as bandleader.

Payne received his first saxophone at the age of 13, asking his father for one after hearing “Honeysuckle Rose” performed by Count Basie with Lester Young soloing. Payne took lessons from a local alto sax player, Pete Brown. He studied at Boys High School, Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Payne began his professional recording career with J. J. Johnson on the Savoy label in 1946. During that year he also began playing with Roy Eldridge, through whom he met Dizzy Gillespie. His earlier recordings would largely fall under the swing category, until Gillespie hired him. Payne stayed on board until 1949, heard performing solos on “Ow!” and “Stay On It”. In the early 1950s he found himself working with Tadd Dameron, and worked with Illinois Jacquet from 1952 to 1954. He then started freelance work in New York City and frequently performed during this period with Randy Weston, whom Payne worked with until 1960. Payne was still recording regularly for Delmark Records in the 1990s, when he was in his seventies, and indeed on into the new millennium.

Payne was a cousin of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, whom he recorded with briefly. Aside from his career in music, Payne helped run his father’s real estate company during the 1950s. Payne once said that his parents urged him to consider dentistry as a career. He countered their suggestion by pointing out that no one would ever entrust his or her teeth to a “Dr. Payne”


As leader

Patterns of Jazz (Savoy, 1957)
Cecil Payne Performing Charlie Parker Music (Charlie Parker, 1961)
The Connection (Charlie Parker, 1962)
Brookfield Andante (Spotlite, 1966)
Zodiac (Strata-East, 1968 [1973])
Brooklyn Brothers (Muse, 1973) with Duke Jordan
Bird Gets The Worm (Muse, 1976)
Bright Moments (Spotlight, 1979)
Cerupa (Delmark, 1993)
Scotch and Milk (Delmark, 1997)
Payne’s Window (Delmark, 1998)
The Brooklyn Four Plus One (Progressive, 1999)
Chic Boom: Live at the Jazz Showcase (Delmark, 2000) with tenor player Eric Alexander.

As sideman

With Gene Ammons

Sock! (Prestige, 1955 [1965])
With Count Basie

High Voltage (MPS, 1970)
With Nick Brignola

Burn Brigade (Bee Hive, 1979)
With Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell (Prestige, 1957)
With Jimmy Cleveland

Introducing Jimmy Cleveland and His All Stars (EmArcy, 1955)
With John Coltrane

Baritones and French Horns (Prestige, 1957)
With Tadd Dameron

Cool Boppin´ (Fresh Sound, 1949)
The Magic Touch (Riverside, 1962)
With Kenny Dorham

Afro-Cuban (Blue Note, 1955)
Blue Spring (Riverside, 1959) – with Cannonball Adderley
With Matthew Gee

Jazz by Gee (Riverside, 1956)
With Dizzy Gillespie

The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (Bluebird, 1937-1949 [1995])
Pleyel 48 (Vogue, 1948)
The Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band (MPS, 1968)
With Benny Golson

Stockholm Sojourn (Prestige, 1974)
With Al Grey

Struttin’ and Shoutin’ (Columbia, 1976 [1983])
With Gigi Gryce

Doin’ the Gigi (Uptown, 2011)
With Johnny Hammond

The Prophet (Kudu, 1972)
With Ernie Henry

Last Chorus (Riverside, 1956–57)
With Illinois Jacquet

Groovin’ with Jacquet (Clef, 1951-53 [1956])
The Soul Explosion (Prestige, 1969)
With J. J. Johnson

Jazz Quintets (Savoy, 1947–49)
With Duke Jordan

Duke Jordan Trio and Quintet (Signal, 1955)
With James Moody

The Blues and Other Colors (Milestone, 1969)
With Archie Shepp

Kwanza (Impulse!, 1974)
With Jimmy Smith

Six Views of the Blues (Recorded July 16, 1958, released on Blue Note, 1999)
With Sonny Stitt

Sonny Stitt Plays Arrangements from the Pen of Quincy Jones (Roost, 1955)
With Idrees Sulieman

Roots (New Jazz, 1957) with the Prestige All Stars
With Clark Terry:

Clark Terry (EmArcy, 1955)
With Randy Weston

With These Hands… (Riverside, 1956)
Jazz à la Bohemia (Riverside, 1956)
The Modern Art of Jazz by Randy Weston (Dawn, 1956)
Uhuru Afrika (Roulette, 1960)
Monterey ’66 (Verve, 1966 [1994])
With Ernie Wilkins

Septet (Savoy, 1955)

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