The Buffalo News Summer Jazz Series: Don Menza Septet
Don Menza is a powerful tenor saxophonist, with a dynamic and distinctive sound and soloing style. Born in Buffalo, in 1936, Menza started playing tenor saxophone when he was 13. After his service in the Army, he worked with Maynard Ferguson's Orchestra (1960-1962) as both a soloist and an arranger. From 1964 to 1968 he performed in Germany with Stan Kenton. In 1968 he joined Buddy Rich's Big Band in the "jazz tenor" chair, recording the famous solo cadenza on "Channel 1 Suite" (recorded "live" at Caesar's Palace), where he utilized a circular breathing technique that has become well known among musicians and music educators. He settled in California and has worked with Elvin Jones and Louie Bellson and succeeded as an educator and studio musician. Menza recorded as a leader for Saba (1965) in Germany, Discwasher (1979), Realtime, and Palo Alto. Don was a long-time member of The Tonight Show Band, with Johnny Carson. His compositions, "Groovin' Hard" and "Time Check," both favorites of Doc Severinsen's NBC Orchestra and Buddy Rich's Big Band, have become standard repertoire in jazz study programs at many colleges and universities. In 2005, Menza was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
1285 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
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