Worked with Ry Cooder, Lionel Hampton

Versatile saxophone player Gil Bernal died July 17 of congestive heart failure in Glendale, Calf. He was 80.

Bernal performed on the 1950s pop song “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and worked with Spike Jones, Lionel Hampton and Ry Cooder.

Born in the Watts area of Los Angeles, he joined a band after high school, then sang with Lionel Hampton’s band, leaving in the early 1950s to form his own group and later joining bandleader Jones.

A tenor saxophonist, Bernal worked on several projects with Ry Cooder, including his 1997 Cuban music album “The Buena Vista Social Club.”

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