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Auld, Georgie (born John Altwerger)

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Auld, Georgie (born John Altwerger), Canadian-born American jazz tenor saxophonist, bandleader; b. Toronto, May 19, 1919; d. Palm Springs, Calif., Jan. 8, 1990. As a child Auld began on alto saxophone, studying with Michael Angelo in Toronto. In 1929 his family moved to N.Y., where, in 1931, he won a scholarship to study with Rudy Weidoeft for nine months. In 1936, after hearing Coleman Hawkins’s recording of “Meditation,” he switched to tenor sax. Auld led a small band at Nick’s, worked with Bunny Berigan in 1937 and 1938, and joined Artie Shaw’s band early in 1939; he played with the group until Shaw disbanded it later that year. Auld briefly led a Shaw alumni group before joining Jan Savitt (spring 1940) and Benny Goodman (November 1940 to June 1941). Following a brief stint with another Artie Shaw group, Auld led his own band beginning in February 1942. The following year he served briefly in the army. Afterwards, he led a quartet at the Three Deuces, N.Y., then formed his big band in September 1943. The band continued through mid-1946, except for a break due to illness in 1945. Auld was open to the new bop style and at one time or another his band included such players as Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Serge Chaloff, Joe Albany, Stan Levey, and Al Porcino, with arrangements from Al Cohn, Neal Hefti, and Tadd Dameron. Due to illness, Auld moved to Ariz., then Calif., but soon returned to regular playing, leading a group at the Three Deuces, then in Calif., and playing in Billy Eckstine’s band in 1948. He led a band at the Tin Pan Alley Club, N.Y. (spring 1949; a ten-piece group that played in a more bebop-influenced style), then for almost a year acted in the Broadway play The Rat Race . Auld worked briefly with Count Basie in the spring of1950, then led a quintet until August 1951. After another break due to illness, he moved to Calif., opened his own Melody Room Club, and began freelance studio work for MGM and others. He did studio work in N.Y. in the late 1950s, then moved to Las Vegas. During the 1960s he continued to lead bands, one of which toured Japan, and freelanced for various leaders, including a spell in Las Vegas with Benny Goodman (1966). Auld was active in Los Angeles in 1971, occasionally leading a band. He acted in the film, New York, New York (1977) and dubbed Robert DeNiro’s saxophone parts as well.

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