Marshall Royal

For close to 20 years -- from the early '50s until 1970 -- the characteristic sax sound of Count Basie's big band was topped by the clear, vibrating lead alto of Marshall Royal. Royal was, by all accounts, a competent swing-based soloist, but his strength was first and foremost as a team player. Royal's style became the prototype for swinging a sax section; his slightly behind-the-beat phrasing, pronounced vibrato, and aggressive leadership influenced a subsequent generation of ensemble players.

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