Paul Bascomb

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Paul Bascomb (born February 12, 1912 in Birmingham; died December 2, 1986 in Chicago, Illinois) was a jazz tenor saxophonist best known for his tenure with the Erskine Hawkins Band in the 1930s and 40s and for his later session work on R&B recordings.

Bascomb was one of ten children, and the older brother of trumpeter Wilber "Dud" Bascomb. He learned clarinet and saxophone early on, and honed his skills as a member of Fess Whatley's Parker High School band, then joined classmate Erskine Hawkins in co-founding the Bama State Collegians big band at Alabama State Teachers' School in 1932.

In 1934 the Collegians, now featuring Bascomb's brother, Dud, moved to New York City as the Erskine Hawkins Band. The band's 1936 record "Big John's Special" featured Bascomb's influential "honking" sax solo. Except for a few months in 1938-39 filling in for Herschel Evans in the Count Basie Orchestra, Bascomb spent the next decade performing with the popular group.

After the band ended its run in 1944, Bascomb started his own Paul Bascomb Septet, which soon grew into a big band which played nightclubs in Chicago and Detroit. Among their recordings was a 1947 track entitled "Rock and Roll" in which Bascomb presciently repeated the then-mysterious phrase.

Bascomb settled in Chicago in the 1950s and found work as a session musician on numerous R&B records for United. His single "Jan", recorded in 1953 hit the local charts the next Spring. He also appeared in occasional festivals in North America and Europe. To supplement his inconsistent earnings as a saxophonist he worked as a trash collector.

Bascomb was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979. He died in 1986.

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