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Cy Touff

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  • Born: Chicago, IL
  • Died: Evanston, IL
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

One of the very few bass trumpet specialists in jazz history, Cy Touff, although closely associated with West Coast Jazz, has actually been a fixture in Chicago for decades. Touff played piano (starting when he was six), C-melody sax, and xylophone before temporarily settling on trumpet. He was in the Army during 1944-1946 but was fortunate enough to get a chance to play trombone regularly with an Army band. After his discharge, Touff returned to Chicago, studied with Lennie Tristano and gigged with Jimmy Dale, Jay Burkhart, Bill Russo, Charlie Ventura, Shorty Sherock, Ray McKinley, and Boyd Raeburn, among others. In the late '40s he switched to the bass trumpet, an instrument that sounds close to a valve trombone. Touff was a member of the Woody Herman Orchestra during 1953-1956; he recorded during this era as a member of the Herdsman, with the Nat Pierce-Dick Collins nonet and as a leader of his own Pacific Jazz album (1955) which in 1997 was reissued on CD. Touff later recorded twice as a leader for Argo (a Dixieland date from 1956-1957, and a 1958 cool session). After his Herman years, Touff moved back to Chicago, worked in the studios, performed jazz in local clubs, and recorded with Chubby Jackson and Lorez Alexandria in 1957, with Fred Wacker in 1965, and with the group Hyde Park After Dark in 1981.