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 In 1968 at 14 years old Wynell Montgomery started playing the clarinet. He took music lessons at Los Angeles Southwest College in Los Angeles because of a program that offered free music lessons on the weekends to local kids. What he really wanted to play was the saxophone but the Instructor said that the best way to get on saxophone was to learn the clarinet first, so he asked his parents to buy him a clarinet.
He stayed with clarinet for as long as he had to, he didn’t really care for the clarinet at the time. His piano instructor gave he and his brother scales to learn and music to read for the clarinet and the piano. By the end of the summer  he was good enough to move on to the saxophone.
His first idol was saxophonist  Eddie Harris, who, at that time had a song called “Listen Here” which was his favorite song. His second influence was Wes Montgomery (no relation), and though he was a guitarist his style and soul caught Wynell's attention in a big way. He played and listened, played and listened until he could play what he heard from Eddie Harris, Wes Montgomery and whoever else he could find on the radio.
He didn’t know what he was doing it at the time but later realized he was actually training his ear to hear and imitate the Pros.

Wynell was hooked on Jazz and eventually ended up playing in the Los Angeles Harbor College Jazz Band. He attended classes at Harbor College taking classes in Theory, Harmony, Ear Training, and Musicianship.


While playing a College Jazz Festival he was approached by San Diego State University’s band director and was recruited to come and play for SDSU’s Jazz Band. While there he continued studying Theory, Counterpoint, Musicianship, and Harmony as a music major. He performed every chance he got!  He played clarinet with the Concert Band, Tenor Saxophone with the Jazz Band, and Flutes (C & Alto Flutes) with the Calvin Barnett Symphonic Jazz Orchestra. He played with the Eddie Barnes Gospel Choir as well as a local R&B band for extra money.

After attending SDSU he came home on summer break and began playing with a local band called “Daybreak” with band leader Wayne Vaughn. He was brought in by saxophonist Billy Ray Haley of Compton Cal. The band was from South Central LA but all the band members landed Pro Level work from there.  Daybreak members were:

  • Band Leader and pianist Wayne Vaughn played with the Bro Johnson

  • Guitar Player Glenn Jeffery went to the Freddie Hubbard Band

  • Tenor Saxophonist, Bill Haley, went to the Leon Haywood band

  • Drummer, James Bradley Jr, went on to Chuck Mangione band 

  • Trumpet player Danny Cortez, went on to the Parliament/Funkadelic Band

  • and Alto Saxophonist, Wynell J Montgomery landed a professional gig as Saxophonist and horn section leader with Billy Preston’s Band, for whom he did all the road arrangements for the horns.

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Wynell has worked professionally as a musician in the Los Angeles area for over 40 years. He has a very storied career with professional relationships with some of the 20th centuries best musicians, producers and band leaders. With an open and generous heart and the intellectual musicianship to back it up he has accomplished much in his four decade long career.


He has played in many of the Big Bands working out of Local #47 (the Musician's Union), in addition to many other smaller Jazz groups. As a sideman he has worked with the following artists:

  • Billy Preston

  • Johnny 'Guitar' Watson

  • O. C. Smith

  • Lorez Alexandria

  • Nancy Wilson

  • Chuck Rainey

  • Ronnie Laws

  • Joe Sample

  • Richard Tee

  • Steve Gadd

  • Tom Scott

  • Solomon Burke

  • Mavis Staples

  • The Rolling Stones

  • Rich Little

  • Siegfried and Roy

  • Richard Pryor

  • Redd Foxx

and many more.

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