Panama City (Florida): Renowned jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco who collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and other top singers and musicians of his era has died at the age of 91, his family said today.
DeFranco's family told The Associated Press that the famed musician died Wednesday evening at a Florida hospital.
DeFranco's wife, Joyce, said he had been in declining health in recent years.
DeFranco, a member of the American Jazz Hall of Fame, performed at venues around the world for 75 years and recorded with musicians including Sinatra, Holliday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He conducted the Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight years from 1966 to 1974.
He was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and later named a Living Jazz Legend in a Kennedy Center ceremony.
DeFranco was recognized 16 times with the Playboy All-Star award for top jazz clarinetist in the world.
"We have received condolences from around the world," said Joyce DeFranco. She said her husband's influence on music will last long beyond his lifetime.
DeFranco began his career as a teenager in Philadelphia and went on to play with legendary bands including ones led by Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Gene Krupa and Charlie Barnett.
Composer Nelson Riddle wrote the musical 'Cross Country Suite' in 1958 for DeFranco, and Nat King Cole introduced DeFranco when he premiered the work at the Hollywood Bowl.
The annual Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival is held each spring at the University of Montana. DeFranco's family asked today that contributions in his memory be given to the festival.
DeFranco is survived by his wife and his son, Chad DeFranco.