Tuscaloosa Horns

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The Tuscaloosa Horns is a professional horn section which was first formed in 1979 by trombonist Ben McCoy. He enlisted two colleagues from the horn section of the Tuscaloosa funk band Moon Pie (trumpeter Tom Stipe and saxophonist Rial Gallagher) as well as trumpeters Mart Avant and Chris Gordon and tenor sax player Steve Black in order to compose and record commercial jingles for Don Mosley's Sound of Birmingham recording studio.

Over the next several years the group's arrangements and orchestration, inspired in no small part by Steve Sample, Sr at the University of Alabama, grew larger and more complex. The Horns provided news bumpers and station ID's as well as jingles for several studios, including Boutwell Studios, Shamblin Sound, The Ice House, Prestige Studios, Bates Brothers Recording Studio, and Airwave Recording Studios.

In 1984 McCoy left the group to move to Chicago and Avant took over leadership. The rise of synthesizers cut sharply into the group's studio work, but new large concert venues like the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center and Oak Mountain Amphitheater created a demand for live backing bands for touring groups. It was at an Oak Mountain concert with the Temptations and the Four Tops that the Tuscaloosa Horns forged a working relationship with Motown groups which continues to today. The Horns are the Temptations' primary backing group in the Southeast and have played with various groups all over the United States, including Barry Manilow, Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Franki Valli and others.

The group was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1999, and is currently planning a CD project.


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