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Obituaries

Abe Most, 82; Played With Brown, Dorsey

October 19, 2002|Jon Thurber | Times Staff Writer

Abe Most, a swing clarinetist known for his work with the Les Brown and Tommy Dorsey bands in the 1940s and '50s, has died. He was 82.

Most, who later fashioned a career as a studio musician, died Oct. 10 of heart failure at Kaiser Hospital in Panorama City, according to his wife, Gussie.

Born in New York City, Most began playing the clarinet at the age of 9. He began playing professionally at 16 and later led his own groups at Kelly's Stable and the Hickory House, two New York City jazz spots.

In 1939, Most joined the Les Brown orchestra for a two-year stint playing alto saxophone and singing.

Most served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was stationed in Southern California. After the war, he settled in the Los Angeles area. He worked with his own group and briefly with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra.

From the 1950s through the '70s, he made a steady living in the studio orchestra at 20th Century Fox. He worked in studio bands led by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Henry Mancini.

In the 1970s, he played the clarinet on "The Swing Era," a 15-volume set of recordings from Time-Life that recreated swing-era numbers of the great bands of the '30s, '40s and '50s. Most played all the clarinet solos, emulating the work of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Matty Matlock.

Through much of the last 30 years, Most played in tribute bands to Shaw and Goodman. He was a popular figure in traditional jazz festivals up and down the coast.

In addition to his wife, Most is survived by his three children, Cameo, Mark and Debbie; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by his younger brother, saxophonist Sam Most.

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