Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

EAGER, Allen

(b 10 Jan. 27, NY; d 13 April 2003, Daytona Beach FL) Tenor sax, later alto; one of the best of the early bop saxophonists, always with a personality of his own. He began studying clarinet, switched to tenor sax and played in several bands in 1943, with Woody Herman '43-4, with Tommy Dorsey '45, then played in smaller groups. He had shot to the top, a star on 52nd Street, his playing always conveying excitement and ferocious swing, notably with Tadd Dameron including recordings '48 (also featuring Fats Navarro; look for live airchecks from the Royal Roost). He also recorded as a leader on Savoy '46-7, and on Keynote as A.N. Other. But he came and went from the business; there were racial and other tensions in music (Eager said the black guys were more accepting; it was other white guys who gave him a hard time) and Eager had other interests, such as horses, and skiing. He had started to play more alto sax in the mid-'50s; at the Newport Rebel Festival '60 he played alto exclusively, but his connection to music grew even more tenuous. He won a car race in the touring car class at Sebring in Florida '61. He was said to be living in California in the '70s and to have sat in with Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention. In 1982 he made an album called Renaissance for Uptown, of which Ira Gitler wrote, 'There were musical muscles that needed therapy, but the heart--that "feeling" you either have or don't--was still present.'

Allen Eager: In The Land Of Oo-Bla-Dee 2003 on Uptown is a splendid trip into the past produced by Robert E. Sunenblick M.D. and Chuck Nessa: tracks are compiled from Boston's Hi-Hat club '53 (with the Dick Twardzik Trio), a wire recording from a CBS studio '49 (Buddy Rich on drums), and three sessions made in the studio of fashion photographer Milton H. Greene, probably in '47, variously featuring Serge Chaloff, Johnny Carisi, Rich again, and Bud Powell on three tracks: on one of these, 'Swapping Horns', Charlie Parker plays tenor and Eager plays alto.