Serge Chaloff

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Serge Chaloff, Georgie Auld , Red Rodney , Tiny Kahn and others, around August 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Serge Chaloff (* 24. November 1923 in Boston , Massachusetts ; † 16th July 1957 ) was an American jazz - baritone saxophonist .


Chaloff was the son of the pianist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra , Julius Chaloff , and Margaret Chaloff , the renowned piano teacher at the Berklee College of Music to their students, among others Keith Jarrett , Steve Kuhn , Herbie Hancock and Richard Twardzik belonged. Chaloff studied piano and saxophone and finally decided on the baritone saxophone, his role models here were Harry Carney and Jack Washington . He made his debut as a musician under Tommy Reynolds in 1939, then played with Stinky Rogers in 1941/42, with Shep Fields in 1943, with Ina Ray Hutton in 1945, then with Boyd Raeburn and Georgie Auld . He became known in 1945 as the solo saxophonist in Jimmy Dorsey's band . The following year he joined the Second Herd of Woody Herman in which also Stan Getz , Zoot Sims and Herbie Steward belonged. He can be heard in Hermans Keen And Peachy and Four Brothers 1947.

Serge Chaloff 1947.
Photo: William P. Gottlieb

In 1947 he played his first recordings as a band leader with Red Rodney , Earl Swope , George Wallington , Curley Russell and Tiny Kahn . As a result of his heroin addiction, he became a persona non grata in the jazz scene in the following years, as he did not appear or played catastrophically.

By 1950 Chaloff had the opportunity to perform in New York City with Bud Powell and Earl Swope . There are no recordings of this. In 1952 he returned to Boston, where he worked with Twardzik. He performed on The Steve Allen Show and became the head of the house band of a jazz club. In 1954 he took on the album The Fabel of Mabel with Herb Pomeroy and Charlie Mariano , the following year an album with Boots Mussulli was released .

In March 1956 he played in Los Angeles for Capitol with Sonny Clark , Leroy Vinnegar and Philly Joe Jones his most important album Blue Serge . At that time he was already in a wheelchair because of a spinal tumor, which he fell victim to on July 16, 1957.

Discographic notes

78s by Serge Chaloff & The Herdmen with Al Cohn , Denzil Best , Terry Gibbs , Oscar Pettiford , Red Rodney : "Bopscotch"

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