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Jazzman Alvy West dies at 97

Worked with Sinatra, Holiday, and at NBC

Alto saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader Alvy West, who worked with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, Steve Allen, Mel Torme and Richard Rodgers, wrote tunes with Johnny Mercer and E.Y. Harburg and was associated with NBC, died on Nov. 30 in Warminster, Penn. He was 97. 

West toured with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in the early years of his career and recorded with Billie Holiday. Later he worked as musical director for Andy Williams on television and in recordings. He also led his own combo, Alvy West and the Little Band, which toured military bases in the 1940s before eventually selling out the Hollywood Bowl and recording with Sinatra and O’Day.

West worked as a composer and arranger for NBC in New York and also worked in radio. He was the musical director of NBC programs “The Bob and Ray Show,” “The Lucky Strike Show” and “Country Time.” In the 1960s West contributed to film soundtracks and penned commercial jingles.

In 1985, when he was 70, he had a bit part in the film “Desperately Seeking Susan” as a saxophonist.

Alvin Weisfeld was born in New York City and got gigs at Times Square jazz clubs by the time he was in his teens. He was enrolled at NYU by age 15 but was far more interested in music than in the legal studies his parents hoped he’d pursue.

He is survived by two sons and two daughters; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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