George Young – Episode 20


On this episode of the Chiaroscuro Podcast, we feature reed man and composer George Young.

About George Young

George Young may not have as wide name recognition as some in the jazz world, but he has been a long-time presence in a remarkably wide variety of settings, from big band jazz to doo-wop, to progressive jazz. He was a regular member of the Saturday Night Live band, and has had a lengthy career as a first-call studio musician.

Born George Opalisky, Jr., in Philadelphia in 1937, George Young first got into playing the sax by getting into his father’s instrument. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was an essential part of the Philadelphia rock scene playing on records by Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell and the Dovells. His studio work brought him to appearing on records by Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Sarah Vaughan. 

His first album under his own name was in 1962 for Columbia Records, which was called Presenting the Unbelievable George Young. But his studio work kept him busy and happy as a studio musician, becoming a versatile reed man with all the saxophones, including sopranino, plus flute and clarinet. He also performed with groups including Low Profile and was a founding member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet.

About the Music

Chiaroscuro Records gave Young an opportunity to lead his own group in 1989, and the result was an album called Old Times with an all-star group that included his long-time friend and colleague reed man Lew Del Gatto, plus pianist Ron Feuer, guitarist Bob DiNardo, bassist Tony Marino, drummer Tom Whaley and percussionist Jamey Haddad.

About The Chiaroscuro Podcast

Chiaroscuro Director of Artistry & Repertoire George Graham produces and hosts The Chiaroscuro Podcast. Explore the works of other Chiaroscuro performers in our Artists Section. Check out other episodes of the Chiaroscuro Podcast here