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Earl Turbinton

Earl Turbinton - alto, soprano saxophone, educator

Earl Turbinton, the adventurous saxophonist who helped pioneer the modern jazz scene in New Orleans, followed an idiosyncratic path in music. A jazz master, he could take an audience along on his musical journey, altering consciousness at will with playing that was both spiritual and passionate.

Earl Turbinton grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Turbinton's musical training was with bandleader and educator, Clyde Kerr, Sr., who had an enormous influence on the New Orleans music scene. He continued his musical education and studied jazz with clarinetist Alvin Batiste at Southern University.

As with many New Orleans musicians who were jazz players at heart, Turbinton often made his living playing R&B, blues, and funk gigs. He was a sideman in the early ‘60’s on the road backing Bill Doggett and Jerry Butler. In the late ‘60s, Turbinton co-founded The Jazz Workshop; a nonprofit Decatur Street club that he hoped would serve as an incubator for avant-jazz. That ambition did not come to pass, but the “African Cowboy,” as Mr. Turbinton referred to himself, continued to work as a leader and sideman.

But he kept coming back to jazz, developing into a world-class player. Evidence of that was his appearance on Joe Zawinul's 1970 solo album, “Zawinul.” As a result of those sessions, Earl was asked to join Weather Report, but decided against it. Instead, he went back out on the road for several years, this time with B. B. King's band, and appeared on B.B.’s 1972 release “Five Long Years.”

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