King Curtis’s Robust Saxophone Singles

Saxophonist Curtis Ousley played on songs by Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin, and John Lennon, but he also made some cool instrumental records for himself.


The great saxophonist Curtis Ousley was an essential part of classic recordings by everyone from The Coasters and Buddy Holly to Aretha Franklin and John Lennon, but he also made some cool instrumental records for himself. Ranging from 1958 to 1971, The Complete Atco Singles features plenty of robust-but-tasteful blowing, sometimes on meaty R&B tracks (“Jump Back,” “Memphis Soul Stew”), and sometimes on surprisingly appealing covers of other people’s hits (“Ode to Billie Joe,” “Whole Lotta Love”). Among the intriguing obscurities is the dreamy 1959 single “Heavenly Blues,” a foray into lounge music produced by Leiber and Stoller. If King Curtis’ solo work was an afterthought, it was consistently entertaining regardless.

Courtesy of Real Gone Music