L.A.’s Don Menza & Buffalo’s Sam Noto


Don Menza (sax)
Sam Noto (trumpet)
Mark Eisenman (piano)
Steve Wallace (bass)
John Sumner (drums)

Don Menza bio:
Don Menza is a powerful tenor saxophonist who, although able to effectively imitate most of the top stylists (from Coleman Hawkins to John Coltrane), has a distinctive sound of his own. Menza started playing tenor when he was 13. After getting out of the Army, he was with Maynard Ferguson’s Orchestra (1960-1962) as both a soloist and an arranger.
A short stint with Stan Kenton and a year leading a quintet in Buffalo preceded a period living in Germany (1964-1968). After returning to the U.S., he was with Buddy Rich’s big band in 1968, recording a famous solo on ‘Channel One Suite’ that utilized circular breathing and was quite classic.
He settled in California and has worked with Elvin Jones (1969), Louie Bellson, as an educator, and in the studios. Don Menza, who has made far too few records, recorded as a leader for Saba (1965) in Germany, Discwasher (1979), Realtime, and Palo Alto (the latter two in 1981). Long time member of The Tonight Show Band, with Johnny Carson.

Sam Noto bio:

SAM NOTO (trumpeter, flugelhornist) was born on April 17, 1930 in Buffalo, New York, U.S.A. Reputed as an excellent bop soloist, Noto has worked throughout North America with some of the biggest names and best bands in jazz, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Red Rodney, Don Menza, Joe Romano, Larry Cavelli, Louie Bellson, Kenny Shroyer, Frank Rossolino, Ed Leddy, Archie LeCoQue, Kent Larsen, Joe ‘Red’ Kelly, Phil Gilbert, Pearl Bailey, Bob Fitzpatrick, Bill Catalano, Jim Amlotte, Anita O’Day, Lennie Niehaus, Bud Shank, Bill Perkins, Rob McConnell, Mel Lewis, Stan Kenton, and Richie Kamuca.
Noto’s only formal training on the trumpet was in grade school, but he became so proficient that he was invited to join Stan Kenton’s band as lead trumpet player while still in his early 20s. He played with Kenton full-time until 1958, and again in 1960 after a year-long stint touring Europe with Louie Bellson and Pearl Bailey in 1959. He was also a member of the Count Basie Orchestra for two separate periods between 1964 and 1967. He worked primarily in Las Vegas after 1969 until relocating to Toronto in 1975. It was while living and working in Vegas he became acquainted with trumpeter Red Rodney who was influential in Noto’s prolific recording career with Xanadu.
While living in Toronto, Sam Noto quickly became a first-call studio player, and was a member of Rob McConnell’s The Boss Brass for a number of years in the ’80s. He also established his own successful groups including the Sam Noto Quintet, performing frequently on bandstands and concert stages throughout Toronto in the ’90s and early 2000s. Now living in Fort Erie, Ontario, he continues to play in and around the Toronto area, as well as closer to home in Buffalo, New York jazz clubs