December 25, 1941 – October 7, 2022
From Ronnie’s website:
If you research back to the George Benson Cookbooks “66” “67” on Columbia, Which have already been released on CD, You’ll find a young, early twenties baritone saxophone master. As you listen to this keep in mind that Benson and Cuber had this as a working band. His sound is something amazingly beautiful and vivid. That Benson band,from the day, was a working unit and a marvelous display of an an emerging Ronnie Cuber. As Cuber developed past his early years into a quintessential sideman for people as diverse as, Eddie Palmieri or Aretha Franklin and King Curtis. Nothing had been released under his name until the mid-seventies when he released the recording, Cuber Libre on Xanadu Records with Barry Harris,Sam Jones and Al “Tutti” Heath. At the same time in the early seventies, around 1973 and before, he had been adding one of a kind talents to personal projects with friends such as Mike Manieri’s ground breaking White Elephant Band and Bobby Paunetto’s Latin Jazz Projects. Cuber, at a point in the seventies was also in the Saturday Night Live band, Backing artists like Frank Zappa ,and playing solos with people like Zappa that to this day are light years ahead of what most people can play. For my ears – Cuber is one of the most soulful musicians ever.Bar none !! Cuber, born December 25, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, has been composing, arranging and leading his own groups since 1959. He is acknowledged to be one of the greats among baritone saxophonists, with a sound that is an exciting amalgam of straight-ahead jazz, hard bop, soul, R& B, and Latin . In his teens he was chosen to perform in Marshall Brown’s Newport Youth Band at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival.
By ‘ 62 Cuber had recorded with Slide Hampton. He worked and recorded with Maynard Ferguson’s band from 1963-1965. After stints with the orchestras of both Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman , Cuber augmented his New York session work by performing and recording with the great Latin bands of Eddie Palmieri, Charlie Palmieri, Mario Bauza. At the same time, Mr. Cuber was playing alongside and recording with R&B legend King Curtis and backing Aretha Franklin.Ronnie holds this association in high regard. He loved his friendship with King also. His killin’ solos with Lee Konitz’s Nonet from 1977-79 are historic as well as a study in Bari -sax-ology.. During that decade and the 1980s, Mr. Cuber also recorded with Mickey Tucker, Rein De Graaff, and Nick Brignola, and appeared with such artists as Andy and Jerry Gonzalez and vibraphone player Bobby Paunetto. Other leading artists with whom Mr. Cuber has performed include Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Chaka Khan, Maynard Ferguson, Conrad Herwig, Boz Scaggs, Horace Silver, and Frank Zappa. From the 1990s to the present, Mr. Cuber has performed regularly with the Mingus Big Band and recorded several discs for Steeplechase and Fresh Sound. He created the Baritone Saxophone Band Tribute to Gerry Mulligan, and has spent summers touring with blues artist Dr. John, for whose band he has written numerous large horn section arrangements for tour and television performances. Mr. Cuber’s summer 2000 tour found him opening for Dr. John at European jazz festivals with his quartet and his old friend, organist Lonnie Smith. This is someone that has something to offer every listener of all tastes and ranges musically. Cuber is a musicians musician, as well as one of the most gifted players ever. His gift is in his ability to function with somebody like Steve Gadd and then go record with Horace Silver, at the same time do a tour with Eric Clapton. There is not one of his records that contains any half-hearted playing or musical skating. When he plays, it’s serious creative business and he tells a story. If you pick up anything under Cuber’s name, you’re guaranteed a winner. Check him out ! In this day and age, Ronnie is one of the modern day masters, and supreme creators. Do hear him ASAP! This recording, ” Ronnie”. Released last year on Steeplechase records, is some of the most vivid and personal saxophone playing ever done on a baritone saxophone. This CD is a shining example of Cubers big, beefy baritone sax tone and a fluent technique that is a one of a kind match between the gritty, down-home feeling of R&B and the advanced harmonies of bebop.
Ronnie Cuber’s Set up:
- Low A Mark VI Baritone
- Custom made metal Francois Louis mouthpiece
- Rico Orange box reeds, 3 str?
Thanks for the excellent article on Ronnie!
Over the past year I’ve had a few FaceTime lessons with him and can attest to his musical genius! At 76 he is a burning Bari master and a powerful musical force!
Although his lessons are somewhat unconventional they are always inspiring and filled with many nuggets of wisdom and very interesting stories.
Please check him out while he’s still around!