Wardell Gray: The Many Faces of the Thin Man


[Photo on far left: (c)Ray Avery/CTSIMAGES. All Rights Reserved.]

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This website is dedicated to the music and legacy of one of the great tenor saxophonists in jazz, Wardell Gray, known as the thin man. Although his death was untimely and his career just a scant 12 years (1943-1955), he was a major contributor to one of the great periods of jazz creativity that ushered in modern jazz. He played with virtually every major figure of the period and was universally admired both for his musical abilities and his gentlemanly deportment.

One reason for his success was his ability to adjust to the needs of just about any musical setting including big band swing (Earl Hines), bop jam sessions (most notably with Dexter Gordon), highly rehearsed combos (Benny Goodman), avant-garde groups (Teddy Charles) and even rhythm and blues gigs. He was equally at home with standards, jazz originals, ballades, up tempo selections, and of course the blues where he was a consummate master. These are his "many faces." Regardless of the setting, he never compromised the high standards of this playing.

Sadly, he has been neglected in recent decades by critics and the general jazz public. It is the goal of this website to help restore awareness of his jazz legacy. In this effort, we welcome any comments or contributions that you may wish to share.

This site is maintained by:

James Accardi (WardellGray.org@gmail.com) and Stuart A. Varden, Ed.D. (svarden@pace.edu)