Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Please check out my interview on THE JAZZ SESSION w/Jason Crane

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pete Yellin (July 18, 1941 - April 13, 2016)

I’m very sad to learn that alto saxophonist Pete Yellin has passed. Pete died on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 due to complications from a stroke he had in the spring of 2011. I actually owe a huge debt to Pete, him being the one who is responsible for me having my full-time position at LIU Brooklyn. And as you can imagine, this has afforded me a chance to have a somewhat normal life as an artist living in New York City--an opportunity not many have, as you well know.

Pete started the jazz program at LIU Brooklyn in 1984 and it was one of the most progressive ones around. In fact, the model used at the New School where students study with professionals of their choosing throughout New York City was started at LIU Brooklyn.

I first heard Pete when I was a student at Berklee in the 1980s on a Joe Henderson record titled In Pursuit of Blackness. That album also featured Woody Shaw, Curtis Fuller, George Cables, Ron McClure and Lenny White. It was released on Milestones records in 1971. Pete remained a frequent collaborator of Joe Henderson all throughout of the 1970s, playing in many of his small groups and big bands. I was very impressed in the way in which Pete walked the line between modernity and tradition. It was very creative and very masterful.

When Pete retired from teaching in 2005, he was pretty excited about getting back on the scene again. In fact, when I visited him at his place in Cobble-Hill (Brooklyn) he said that his chops have never felt better. Unfortunately, his comeback was cut short by his untimely stroke.

Pete was survived by his wife, Jane Oriel of El Cerrito, California; his daughter and son-in-law, Allegra Yellin and Jordan Ruyle, and two granddaughters, all of Oakland, California; and his siblings, Jill Fischer (residing in Connecticut), Bob Yellin (Vermont) and Gene Yellin (New York).

RIP my friend. You will be missed. But we're grateful we still have your music.

Pete's Discography as a Leader:

  • Dance of Allegra (Mainstream Records], 1973)
  • It's the Right Thing (Mainstream, 1973)
  • European Connection: Live! (Jazz4Ever, 1995)
  • It's You or No One (Mons Records, 1996)
  • Mellow Soul (Metropolitan Records, 1999)[
  • How Long Has This Been Going On? (Jazzed Media, 2009)

Below is one of the songs from In Pursuit of Blackness through which I first got introduced to Pete's playing.


  1. I heard Pete with that "In Pursuit of Blackness" band in Chicago at the North Park Hotel. One of the best sets I ever heard: Pete, Joe, Curtis Fuller, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and George Cables (I think) -- what a band. And they played as a band.

  2. I'd love to hear a recording of that set. Must have been amazing!


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