THE ICON: Alvin “Red” Tyler
THE LEGACY: The celebrated names on the front of the records were Fats Domino, Lloyd Price and Huey “Piano” Smith, but saxophonist Alvin “Red” Tyler was as responsible as anyone for the homegrown style of R&B that would become known as the New Orleans sound. His first studio gig came on what would be Domino’s first studio gig, laying down a workmanlike groove on 1949’s “The Fat Man,” a recording cited by some as being the first true rock ‘n’ roll platter. That work would earn him entry into the studio band at Cosimo Matassa’s seminal J&M Studio, where Tyler would perform on hundreds of recordings over the course of his lengthy career. Equally as accomplished as a jazz musician, he was no showboat. Rather, he was a consummate pro who let his musicianship do the talking, and it would speak volumes about the talents of a player who would become one of the city’s most respected and influential horn men.
THE ARTIST: Michael McManus
THE INSPIRATION: “One of the things that I appreciated about him was that he was always there as a support system. He would never get in the way of what you were doing. Especially on ballads, he would play beautiful lines to enhance whatever emotion you were trying to get across.” — singer and frequent Tyler collaborator Germaine Bazzle, upon Tyler’s 1998 death