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Salvatore J. ‘Sam’ Falzone, jazz saxophonist, educator

Dec. 20, 1933 – Sept. 22, 2013

Jazz saxophonist Salvatore J. “Sam” Falzone, a founding father of The Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox series, died Sept. 22 in Beechwood Continuing Care, Getzville. He was 79.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Falzone served with the Air Force during the 1950s, performing with the Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.

In 1960, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education – majoring in woodwinds – from Fredonia State College. He taught instrumental music in the Newfane and Niagara Falls school districts in the 1960s.

Mr. Falzone then lived several years in California, where he was honored by former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for Excellence in Performing Arts. While in Califormia, Mr. Falzone performed with Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich, among others, and appeared on several television programs, including a Shirley McLaine special, “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Mr. Falzone also was a musician, composer and road manager with the Don Ellis Orchestra, performing at jazz festivals across the United States and Europe. During that time, he also recorded soundtracks for movies, including “The French Connection.”

After returning to this area in the late 1970s, Mr. Falzone was a lecturer of music at the University at Buffalo. He also took over leadership of the Buffalo Jazz Workshop.

It was in 1982 that he was approached by Stanford Lipsey, former publisher of The Buffalo News, about celebrating summer, Buffalo jazz and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery all at the same time. The annual free summer series remains the longest-running free jazz festival in the country.

Meanwhile, Mr. Falzone earned a master’s degree in music in 1984 from the University at Buffalo, where he was a professor of jazz studies, and director of the university’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Improvisation Class. He also taught in Buffalo Public Schools for several years.

In 1988, he produced his own album: The Music of Sam Falzone – a Family “Sweet.”

Mr. Falzone performed until last year at the Sportsmen’s Tavern in Buffalo. “He was a musician until he died,” said his sister, Mary Yantomasi.

Additional survivors include two sons, Michael and Donald; two daughters, Lori Chavez and Nicole; another sister, Suzanne Fenger; and his companion, Mary Dyckman.

Services were last week.