Cecil Payne

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Cecil Payne
Payne at the Kitano Hotel Jazz Club, NYC on June 11, 2005
Payne at the Kitano Hotel Jazz Club, NYC on June 11, 2005
Background information
Birth nameCecil Payne
Born(1922-12-14)December 14, 1922
OriginBrooklyn, New York, United States
DiedNovember 27, 2007(2007-11-27) (aged 84)
  • Baritone saxophone
  • alto saxophone
  • flute

Cecil Payne (December 14, 1922 – November 27, 2007)[1] was an American jazz baritone saxophonist born in Brooklyn, New York. Payne also played the alto saxophone and flute. He played with other prominent jazz musicians, in particular Dizzy Gillespie and Randy Weston, in addition to his solo work as bandleader.


Payne received his first saxophone aged 13, asking his father for the instrument after hearing "Honeysuckle Rose" performed by Count Basie with Lester Young soloing. Payne took lessons from a local alto sax player, Pete Brown. He studied at Boys High School, Bedford-Stuyvesant.[2]

Cecil Payne, Greenwich Village Jazz Festival, Washington Square Park NY 1984

Payne began his professional recording career with J. J. Johnson on the Savoy label in 1946. During that year he also began playing with Roy Eldridge, through whom he met Dizzy Gillespie. His earlier recordings would largely fall under the swing category, until Gillespie hired him. Payne stayed on board until 1949, heard performing solos on "Ow!" and "Stay On It". In the early 1950s, he found himself working with Tadd Dameron, and worked with Illinois Jacquet from 1952 to 1954. He then started freelance work in New York City and frequently performed during this period with Randy Weston, whom Payne worked with until 1960.[3] Payne was still recording regularly for Delmark Records in the 1990s, when he was in his seventies, and indeed on into the new millennium.

Payne was a cousin of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, with whom he recorded with briefly.[4] Aside from his career in music, Payne helped run his father's real estate company during the 1950s.[3] Payne once said that his parents urged him to consider dentistry as a career. He countered their suggestion by pointing out that no one would ever entrust his or her teeth to a "Dr. Payne".[5]

He died in Stratford, New Jersey from prostate cancer at the age of 84.[1]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Cannonball Adderley

With Gene Ammons

  • Sock! (Prestige, 1955 [1965])

With Count Basie

With Nick Brignola

With Kenny Burrell

With Jimmy Cleveland

With Ray Charles

With Kenny Clarke and Ernie Wilkins

With John Coltrane

With Tadd Dameron

With Kenny Dorham

With Rolf Ericson

  • Rolf Ericson And His All American Stars (EmArcy, 1956 [1958]) – Originally issued by Metronome in Sweden, reissued by Fresh Sound

With Matthew Gee

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Benny Golson

With Al Grey

With Gigi Gryce

With Johnny Hammond

With Ernie Henry

With Illinois Jacquet

With J. J. Johnson

  • Jazz Quintets (Savoy, 1947–49)

With Philly Joe Jones Dameronia

With Quincy Jones

With Duke Jordan

With James Moody

With Archie Shepp

With Jimmy Smith

With Sonny Stitt

With Idrees Sulieman

  • Roots (New Jazz, 1957) with the Prestige All Stars

With Clark Terry:

With Leon Thomas

With Randy Weston

With Ernie Wilkins

  • Septet (Savoy, 1955)


  1. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (December 6, 2007). "Cecil Payne, Baritone Saxophonist, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  2. ^ Weston, Randy; Jenkins, Willard (2010). African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. p. 25.
  3. ^ a b Gitler, Ira (2001). The Masters of Bebop: A Listener's Guide. Da Capo Press. pp. 40, 41. ISBN 0-306-81009-3.
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott (2001). Trumpet Kings: The Players Who Shaped the Sound. Backbeat Books. p. 49. ISBN 0-87930-608-4.
  5. ^ Cecil Payne at the Up Over Jazz Cafe, Brooklyn, N.Y. 2000.
  6. ^ "BLOCK BUSTER BOOGIE". Archive.org. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  7. ^ "ANGEL CHILD". Archive.org. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  8. ^ "HIPPY DIPPY". Archive.org. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  9. ^ "NO CHOPS". Archive.org. 31 July 1949. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  10. ^ "Ray Charles - The Very Best Of Ray Charles". Discogs.

External links[edit]