Red Prysock, born on February 2, 1926, was an American tenor saxophonist known for his robust and passionate Rhythm and Blues (R&B) style. Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Prysock moved to Buffalo, New York as a child, where he first began to play the saxophone.
Prysock’s career took flight in the mid-1940s when he joined Tiny Bradshaw’s band. With his hard-hitting, honking sound, he quickly made a name for himself on the R&B scene. Prysock’s vibrant solos were often the highlight of Bradshaw’s performances, propelling the band to national fame. His rendition of “Soft,” an instrumental track from 1952, became a hit, securing Prysock’s status as a prominent saxophonist of his time.
One of Prysock’s most iconic performances came in 1954 with his recording of “Hand Clappin’,” a lively number that showcased his explosive saxophone style. This recording became a staple of the R&B genre, underlining Prysock’s pivotal role in shaping the sound of R&B saxophone during the 1950s.
Prysock was not just a sideman but also a bandleader, leading his own bands from the mid-1950s. His high-energy performances and engaging stage presence made him a popular act in nightclubs around the U.S. Prysock continued to record and perform throughout the 1960s, remaining an active figure in the music scene.
Prysock was known for his ability to blend raw emotion with technical proficiency. His sound was characterized by a rich, full-bodied tone and a powerful attack, often using the altissimo register of the saxophone to great effect. His pioneering approach to the saxophone in R&B music has left a lasting impact, influencing generations of saxophonists who followed.
Page last updated 6/18/2023.