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Randy Brecker remembers saxophonist Ronnie Cuber

Ronnie Cuber
Ronnie Cuber

Ronnie Cuber, a versatile and prolific saxophonist who was best known for his work on baritone, died on Saturday, October 8. He was 80 years old. The cause was not available.

Cuber was a triple threat as a musician. First, as a first-call studio player who appeared on hundreds of pop, rock and soul recordings. Second as a member of numerous notable groups, including Maynard Fergusion, The Brecker Brothers , Eddie Palmieri and the Mingus Big Band. Third, as the leader of his own groups with whom he released more than a dozen albums. He was most recently featured on Center Stage, an album with Steve Gadd and Eddie Gomez along with the WDR Big Band, which was spotlighted by WBGO’s New Day/New Play program.

Although he was primarily known for his work on baritone saxophone, he played every reed instrument. Coincidentally, his death occurred on the birthday of the legendary baritone player Pepper Adams who, along with Gerry Mulligan, is often considered one of the most influential artists on that instrument. But, as his longtime colleague and friend Randy Brecker says about Cuber’s legacy, he had his own unique and powerful sound and was neither Mulliganesque or Adamesque. Cuber was a frequent member of the vaunted Brecker Brothers horn section, that also included David Sanborn and Barry Rogers, and that played on countless pop, rock and soul albums from Bruce Springsteen to Paul Simon.

In this conversation with WBGO’s Lee Mergner, Brecker shares his remembrance of his friend, including a few anecdotes about his singular sense of humor.

Randy Brecker on Ronnie Cuber