Al Grey

Albert Thornton Grey was born in Aldie, Virginia on June 6th 1925. His early years, during World War 11, were spent in a Navy Band. He later joined Benny Carter, and subsequently worked with Lucky Millinder, Jimmie Lunceford, Arnett Cobb and Lionel Hampton, then after a spell with Dizzy Gillespie in 1956/57, he joined the Count Basie band, a vital career move.

He stayed with the band until 1961 and during that time his pungent plungermute contributed to Basie masterpieces such as "Blues in Hoss' Flat", as he became a striking soloist along with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.

After leaving Basie, he worked in the studios, toured with Norman Granz' "Jazz at the Philharmonic" unit, played occasionally in George Wein's Newport All Stars and built his soloist's reputation on TV and as winner of a Down Beat Poll.

By the mid 1970's he toured with tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest, and after Forrest's death (August 1980) he teamed up with Buddy Tate for more tandem appearances.

A booting, high energy soloist - often billed in the 1980's as "The last of the great plungers" - Grey performed in London, England in the mid-80's and worked the festival circuit in Europe and the United States.

His most recent recording with Harry "Sweets" Edison at the Blue Note in New York City (1995) shows his chops were still in great shape.

Recommended recordings:"Chairman of the Board" with Count BasieRoulette R 52032 (LP)
"Atomic Basie" with Count BasieRoulette GDP 7243 8 28635 2 6
"Live at 1990 Floating Jazz Festival"Chiaroscuro CR(D)-313
"Centerpiece - Live at the Blue Note"Telarc CD-83379
Al Grey/Jimmy Forrest "Truly Wonderful"Stash ST-CD-552
"Just Jazz" with Buddy TateReservoir RSR CD 110