University of Pittsburgh
April 1, 1999



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, April 2 -- Renowned jazz saxophonist Hank Crawford will take the stage with student members of the Pitt Jazz Ensemble at the annual spring concert Thursday, April 22 at 8 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

The Ensemble is under the direction of Nathan Davis, head of Pitt Jazz Studies. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $4 for students; the first two rows will be cabaret-style seating. For more information, call 412-624-4187.

Crawford, a participant in the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert in 1991 and 1998, has one of the most distinctive saxophone styles in jazz -- described as "an intense wail filled with blues-bitten grace notes, sensuous phrases and shivering vibrato-rich sustains." His style was a major influence on superstars David Sanborn and Grover Washington, Jr.

Born in Memphis in 1934, Crawford took up the sax while in high school and soon was playing in bands led by Ike Turner and Al Jackson, Sr. He played frequently with up-and-coming blues singers Bobby Bland and B. B. King, but his big break came in 1958 when Ray Charles passed through Nashville. A baritone saxophonist had just left the band, and Crawford was given the chance to play. He was signed on by Charles, eventually became the band's music director, and developed his arranging skills and special gift for voicing during this period.

By then, Crawford had switched to the alto sax, and released 12 albums for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. He has been recording and touring ever since, recently with blues-jazz organ master Jimmy McGriff and currently with tenor sax man Johnny Griffin. Crawford explains, "My approach to playing is vocal -- you can almost hear the words instrumentally."