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Baritone sax master recruited for 10-stop tour of Northwest.

Byline: FRED CRAFTS The Register-Guard

Portland saxophonist Rob Scheps doesn't get demonstrative about many sax players, but he is absolutely wild about baritone sax whiz Gary Smulyan.

"There are about six great baritone sax players in the whole world, and he's one," Scheps says about Smulyan. "He's one of the all-time greats."

Scheps is bringing Smulyan to the Northwest for a 10-stop tour that includes Eugene at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday at Luna, 30 E. Broadway.

Tickets for Smulyan are $8 in advance and $10 at the door ($6.50 and $8.50 for students). You can get them at Fastixx outlets or at Luna.

For this tour, Scheps has assembled an all-star unit. Besides himself and Smulyan, the rhythm section consists of Gary Versace on piano, Dave Captein on bass and Alan Jones on drums.

Scheps can't say enough about Smulyan: "He's a living jazz master in the prime of life, coming from New York City just to work with the Oregon guys."

Versace and Scheps met in 1993 while playing in the Gil Evans Band at Sweet Basil in New York City's Greenwich Village. Versace and Captein teach at the University of Oregon, and Captein, Jones and Scheps play together regularly.

The wild card is Smulyan. Scheps recently heard him at the Reno and Port Townsend jazz festivals, where he "scared the hell out of everyone."

In 1978, Smulyan joined Woody Herman's Young Thundering Herd for two years, then moved on to the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, where he remains.

He also plays in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Three Baritone Saxophone Band (a Gerry Mulligan tribute group), the Tom Harrell Octet, George Coleman Octet, Joe Lovano Nonet and the Dave Holland Octet and Big Band.

Over the years, he also has played with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Jimmy Knepper, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Joe Henderson, Roland Hanna, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bob Brookmeyer, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Machito, Lou Rawls and Diana Ross.

Smulyan has recorded five CDs and won the Jazz Times Critics Poll, the Down Beat Readers Poll and the 2001 Down Beat Critics Poll.


Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan will play at Luna on Sunday. Gary Smulyan quintet
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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