Reference Entry

Criss, Sonny

Barry Kernfeld

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Criss, Sonny (23 October 1927–19 November 1977), jazz alto saxophonist, was born William Criss in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Lucy B.; her maiden name and her husband’s name are unknown. Criss began playing saxophone at age eleven. In 1942 his family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Jefferson High School and performed with fellow students Hampton Hawes, a pianist, and Cecil (later known as “Big Jay”) McNeely, a tenor saxophonist. Criss studied music with Samuel Browne, who also taught trumpeter Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist ...

Reference Entry.  1466 words. 

Subjects: Woodwinds ; Blues ; Jazz

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