Nick Brignola was an American saxophonist born on July 17, 1936, in Troy, New York. He was a prominent baritone saxophonist who was known for his unique style of playing that blended hard bop, bebop, and modern jazz. Nick Brignola had a career that spanned over four decades, and he played alongside some of the most notable jazz musicians of his time.
Brignola started playing the saxophone at a young age, and by the time he was in his teens, he was already performing professionally. He played with various local bands in his hometown, including the Albany Local 14, which featured several notable musicians.
In the 1960s, Brignola moved to New York City, where he played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, and Maynard Ferguson. He also recorded several albums as a bandleader during this time, including “Baritone Madness” and “L.A. Bound.” His playing was characterized by a big, bold sound, and he was known for his ability to play fast, intricate lines while maintaining a melodic sense.
Brignola’s career continued to flourish throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and he became a sought-after sideman and session musician. He played on numerous recordings with artists such as Stanley Turrentine, Chuck Mangione, and Freddie Hubbard. He also continued to release his own albums, including “Pegasus” and “On a Different Level.”
In addition to his playing, Brignola was also known for his teaching and mentoring. He was a faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music, and he taught at several other music schools and workshops throughout his career. He was also a mentor to many young musicians, including saxophonist Tim Ries, who played with the Rolling Stones.
Nick Brignola passed away on February 8, 2002, at the age of 65, after a battle with cancer. His legacy lives on through his recordings and through the many musicians he inspired and mentored over the course of his career. His contribution to the development of the baritone saxophone as a lead instrument in jazz cannot be overstated.
Page last updated 3/28/2023.