Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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NIEHAUS, Lennie

(b 11 June '29, St Louis MO) Alto sax, composer. Moved to West Coast as a child; worked with Jerry Wald, '51, joined Stan Kenton; served in US Army '52--4; with Kenton again until '59. With Bud Shank and Art Pepper he was one of the most prominent in the West Coast alto sax school of the period, which seemed to combine the infl. of Charlie Parker with the style of Benny Carter. His primary infl. was Lee Konitz. He came from a musical family and had a thorough grounding in theory; he knew better than to try to be over- elaborate, but could improve on a pop tune with his melodic ideas, and he had nothing to learn about the alto saxophone, his fluency, attack and swing as good as the best. He retired to commercial work in TV and films (has often worked with Clint Eastwood), arr. for night-club acts etc; he's been off the scene so long that his albums were long out of print; there were five on Contemporary '54--6 and one on EmArcy '57, all small-group sets with excellent sidemen; also Patterns on Fresh Sound. Reissues of '50s tracks on Fantasy CDs are absurdly short measure and don't do him justice; all the tracks from those years ought to be compiled in a decent set. His retirement from jazz was a great loss, but the money probably wasn't enough to live on.