Dec. 28, 1926 – May 2, 2013
Edwin Richard “Eddie” Kaye, a widely known Buffalo-area jazz tenor saxophone player, lost his battle with congestive heart disease Thursday in Shell Point Hospice Center, Fort Myers, Fla. He was 86.
Mr. Kaye was born in Lancaster. His talent and affinity for jazz led him to begin studying the tenor saxophone at age 13. He moved to Buffalo and attended Riverside High School, where he played in the school band.
He married Jeanne D. Pratt in 1945, and they had seven children. She died in 1997.
Mr. Kaye’s professional music career as a jazz tenor saxophonist, launched when he was just out of high school, endured for well over six decades but flourished during the 1940s and ’50s, the golden age of jazz.
He became widely known and admired for his distinct, warm, sensitive playing style and knack for delivering heart-wrenching, emotional ballads reminiscent of sax greats Lester Young and Ben Webster, his idol and good friend.
He was a fixture in the popular local club and dance venues of that era, such as the Town Casino, the Crystal Beach Ballroom and the Copa Casino, where he fronted his own jazz group as the “house band.”
He and his group at the Copa backed many nationally known jazz legends, including Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee and countless others.
Mr. Kaye also was one of the first white musicians to be featured regularly at the Buffalo Colored Muscians Club on Broadway.
In the mid-1950s, he recorded under his own name for Chicago’s Mercury Records with fellow Buffalo music stars Dodo Greene and Ducky Rice.
Mr. Kaye also maintained an enthusiastic hobby as a gardener and horticulturist, raising prize-winning hybrid roses in Buffalo and lush tropical orchids in Florida.
In 1999, Mr. Kaye relocated to Fort Myers and married Diane Kisting.
Survivors, besides his wife, include five daughters, Mary Jeanne Blum, Patricia McCormack, Kim Panczakiewicz, Susan Mack and Jill; and a son, Rick.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 1029 Delaware Ave.