Al Sears

Albert Omega Sears (February 21, 1910 March 23, 1990)[1] was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader, sometimes credited as Big Al Sears.

Al Sears
Al Sears (left) with Johnny Hodges, 1946
Background information
Birth nameAlbert Omega Sears
Born(1910-02-21)February 21, 1910
Macomb, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 23, 1990(1990-03-23) (aged 80)
New York City

Sears was born in Macomb, Illinois. His first major gig came in 1928 when he replaced Johnny Hodges in Chick Webb's ensemble. Following this he played with Elmer Snowden (1931–32), then led his own groups between 1933 and 1941. In the early 1940s he was with Andy Kirk (1941–42) and Lionel Hampton (1943-44) before he became a member of Duke Ellington's Orchestra in 1944, replacing Ben Webster. He became one of Ellington's best-known soloists and remained in his employ until 1949, when first Jimmy Forrest and then Paul Gonsalves took over his chair. He played with Johnny Hodges in 1951–52 and recorded the tune "Castle Rock" with him; the tune became a hit but was released under Hodges's name.

Sears was in Alan Freed's band when Freed did live shows, being introduced as "Big Al Sears." He played as a studio musician on a variety of R&B albums in the 1950s and recorded two albums for Swingville Records in 1960. He also owned several record labels, including Arock, Serock, and Gator.[1]

In 1990 he died in St. Albans, New York, at the age of 80.[1]


As leader/coleader

As sideman

With Mildred Anderson

With Al Hibbler

With Johnny Hodges

With Budd Johnson

With Jimmy Witherspoon


  1. Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues – A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 135. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  • Scott Yanow, Al Sears at Allmusic
  • Scott DeVeaux and Barry Kernfeld. "Sears, Al." The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press.
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