NEA Jazz Master Frank Wess was the most respected big band reed player of his generation, and is widely recognized for establishing the flute as a jazz solo instrument. Frank came to prominence when he joined the Count Basie Band in 1953 and stayed with Basie until 1964, as lead saxophone player and flutist. From his home base in New York, over the next 50 years Frank performed and recorded with the greatest musicians of his time in innumerable live performance and recorded settings. His name invariably headed the list whenever a project required a top section leader and soloist, and he continued to play brilliantly into his 90th year. Frank was respected and loved throughout the jazz community. He was a total professional in every way, and his intelligence and superb sense of humor brought life to every project.