He was noticed by producer and talent scout John Hammond, who arranged for him to record with Harry James. During that time he also worked at the dance orchestra of Vernon Andrade in New York. After his 'normal work', he liked jamming, including with Thelonious Monk at Minton's Playhouse, one of the birthplaces of bebop. In 1941 he joined the band of Andy Kirk, "The Clouds of Joy", where he worked for two years. When World War II was in full swing, he led a band that entertained the troops in military camps and bases.
He then played in the orchestra of Lionel Hampton and in 1944 he was saxophonist with Duke Ellington, where he replaced Ben Webster. Sears was one of Ellington's most famous soloists. In 1949 he left to be replaced by Paul Gonsalves. He joined the group of Johnny Hodges, who had a big hit with the by Sears composed "Castle Rock".
Sears remained in the band from Hodges until August 1952, after which he left to go solo. In the period 1950-1956 he made rhythm & blues records under his own name, for several labels, including Groove Records, Coral, RCA Victor and King Records. Several of these recordings were later collected on "Sear-iously". Furthermore, in the fifties, he was session musician on rhythm & blues records and also started his own music publishing company, Sylvia Music Company. Mid fifties disc jockey Alan Freed organized rock & roll shows, where Al Sears led the band.
With Jesse Stone he wrote one of Freeds recognition melodies. With Stone he also made recordings, as well as with a.o. Otis Blackwell and Johnny Burnette. After 1957 his career got in the doldrums.
He was a boss at ABC Paramount and pleaded for the rights of black artists. In 1959 and 1960 he recorded two albums for Swing Ville Records. In the sixties he played with Mildred Anderson, Taft Jordan, Shorty Baker, Coleman Hawkins and Aretha Franklin. In the 1980s Sears still played occasionally.
He died March 23, 1990 at the age of 80 in New York. Since 2002, there is an annual Al Sears Jazz Festival in Macomb. Discography (selection) The Rocking & Honking Tenor, EPM Sear-iously, Bear Family Big Raw Tone, Hep Cat Dance Music with a Swing Beat (1959), Audio Lab Records Swing's the Thing "(1960) Original Jazz Classics, 1995 with Andy Kirk: 1940-1942, Classics, 1993 Lionel Hampton: 1942-1944, Classics, 1995 with Duke Ellington: Indispensable Duke Ellington, RCA, 1995 The Duke Ellington Centenary Collection: The Travelogue Edition, Music Masters Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more