Frank Wess (born January 4, 1922 in Kansas City) is an American jazz musician, who has played saxophone (both alto and tenor) and flute.
He began with classical music and played in Oklahoma. He later switched to jazz on moving to Washington, D. C. and by nineteen was working in the Big Bands. His career would be interrupted during World War II although he did play with a military band in the period. On returning from service he joined Billy Eckstine's orchestra.
He returned to DC a few years after this and received a degree in flute at the city's Modern School Of Music. From 1953 he joined Count Basie's band, playing flute and tenor sax. He reverted to alto sax in the late '50s, and left Basie's band in 1964. From 1959 to 1964 he won Down Beat's critic poll for flute. Since then he has done a variety of TV shows and telethons. He was a member of Clark Terry's big band from 1967 into the '70s and played in the New York Quartet (with Roland Hanna). In the '80s and '90s, he worked with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, Buck Clayton, Benny Carter, Billy Taylor, Harry Edison, Mel Tormé, Ernestine Anderson, Louie Bellson, John Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Dick Hyman, Byron Stripling, Jane Jarvis, Frank Vignola and was a featured member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.
In 2007 Wess was named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.
September 16, 2022
Backgrounder: Frank Wess's 'Trombones & Flute'
March 04, 2020
Frank Wess + Kenny Burrell
December 01, 2015
From 'Rambo' to 'Lo-Fi'
August 20, 2015
Frank Wess: Trombones & Flute
November 06, 2013
Frank Wess, 91, Saxophonist and Flutist With the Basie Band, Dies
November 06, 2013
Frank Wess dies at 91; key player in major jazz ensembles
October 31, 2013
Frank Wess, January 4, 1922 - October 30, 2013
January 02, 2013
Frank Wess and Johnny Coles
October 10, 2010
All Nite Soul at Saint Peter's Church Tonight at 7pm!
August 19, 2010
NEA Jazz Master, Saxophonist and Flutist Frank Wess to be Honored.