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One year ago: Jack Nimitz

June 10, 2010 |  6:00 am

Nimitz Jack Nimitz, who died one year ago today, was only a teenager when he began playing professional gigs at Howard Theatre in his hometown of Washington, D.C. At that time he was playing clarinet and alto saxophone, but he soon fell in love with the baritone saxophone, an instrument that he carried with him throughout the rest of his career -- and practically to his deathbed, as he continued performing up until just weeks before his death from emphysema.

"It sounded so warm and nice and dark and rich," he told The Times about the instrument. "The bottom notes are the best notes in the whole orchestra, because if you don't have a good bottom, nothing really works."

Nimitz came to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and established himself as a first-rank studio musician for scores of film soundtracks and recording sessions. He often worked for songwriter Johnny Mandel and also played with such jazz luminaries as Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson and the Lighthouse All-Stars.

His first album as a leader was the 1995 session on Fresh Sound records called "Confirmation," which focused heavily on bebop tunes.

Read the complete obituary for Jack Nimitz, published in The Times on June 15, 2009.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Jack Nimitz

Credit: Los Angeles Times