One of the enigmas of jazz

Allen Eager was born in New York on 10th January, 1927 and died in Florida on April 13th, 2003.

He began studying clarinet in his early teens,and in 1943 received lessons on tenor saxophone from Ben Webster. After changing to saxophone he worked with Bobby Sherwood, Sonny Dunham, Shorty Sherock, and Hal Mclntyre. Eager later joined Woody Herman and in 1945 worked with Tommy Dorsey and Johnny Bothwell.

He performed in clubs on 52nd Street, New York, with Barney Kessel, Zoot Sims, Sid Catlett and Shelly Manne in Los Angeles and made a number of recordings with his own groups from 1946 to 1948. Among those he worked with around this period were Coleman Hawkins, Pete Brown, Red Rodney, Stan Levy, Max Roach, Al Haig, Serge Chaloff and Charlie Parker, as well as recording with Fats Navarro, Wardell Gray and Ernie Henry as a member of Tad Dameron's band, at the time resident at the Royal Roost on Broadway.

Allen Eager had a sound on the tenor saxophone similar to his contemporaries, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn and Brew Moore, all of whom had been greatly influenced by Lester Young. In the 1950s he made occasional recordings with Gerry Mulligan and Terry Gibbs and worked with Buddy Rich.

Eager's personality was an enigma to many of his friends and colleagues. He occasionally abandoned his musical career for his hobbies of skiing, horse riding, and motor racing, eventually settling in Paris in 1956, where he began to play alto saxophone. In 1957 he ceased full-time performing once more, but resumed his career in 1982, when he toured Europe and recorded with his own group.

Some of Eager’s best performances can be heard on Brothers and Other Mothers—recorded in July 1947 with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn and Serge Chaloff, all of whom had been members of the Woody Herman Four Brothers sax section, together with the Other Mothers Brew Moore and Allen Eager.

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