Saying goodbye to saxophone legend Sam Butera

Sam Butera

Sam Butera

Jerry DeMarco

Jerry DeMarco

Blogger Jerry DeMarco, a friend and former colleague of mine, usually writes about crime and criminals in Northern New Jersey. But he took some time out from that yesterday to write about another love of his — music — when he noted the passing of saxophone great Sam Butera. Here’s a taste of Jerry’s tribute:

They buried Sam Butera in Las Vegas yesterday, giving Gabriel the one saxophonist who could make a heavenly band swing like the devil. Darkly handsome, Uncle Sam died earlier this month — a footnote for many in the musical world but a noted loss for anyone who knew where rock and roll really began.

Butera, 81, tenor played sax behind Louis Prima, a combination rivaled in our generation only by The Boss and the Big Man. He helped make Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, and the latest incarnation of Brian Setzer possible.

If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube or dig up few Prima classics: “Buona Sera,” “Jump, Jive An’ Wail,” or “5 Months, Two Weeks, Two Days.” Listen, in particular, especially to “Oh, Marie,” where Prima scats in English and Italian — and Butera matches him note-for-note.

For the full text, please visit Jerry’s web page by clicking here.

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