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Renowned jazz saxophonist dies

February
09
1939

On this day in 1939, the saxophonist and composer Herschel Evans died of heart disease in New York City. Evans, a native of Denton, Texas, was only thirty at the time of his death, but had already established a formidable reputation in the jazz world. His cousin Eddie Durham, himself a legendary musician, convinced a young Evans to switch from alto to tenor sax. After spending some years in Kansas City, Evans returned to Texas in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s he was a featured soloist with Count Basie's big band, and his musical duels with Lester Young, as on the Basie hit "One O'Clock Jump," are considered jazz classics. Evans also recorded with Teddy Wilson and composed the hit songs "Texas Shuffle" and "Doggin' Around." He was a major influence on such later tenor players as Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb.

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