1950 to 2000
January 7, 1935
December 12, 2006
Huntington, New York, United States
He was born in Huntington, Long Island to a family of mixed Jewish and Irish-Catholic ancestry. His mother's family originally came from Vienna, Austria, where his great-grandfather Alfred Roth had been a colonel in the Austro-Hungarian cavalry, the highest rank accessible to a Jew in the Habsburg Imperial army. After hearing Pee Wee Russell the first time, he was convinced that he wanted to be a jazz musician, too; and at the age of 16 he joined the musician's union, first as a baritone saxophone player. In 1954 he joined Jack Teagarden's Band, and after only a few days with the band he made his first jazz recordings.