Internationally renowned jazz musician joins Hall of Fame

Troy native Nick Brignola was a self-taught baritone saxophonist

TROY—Jazz musician Nick Brignola, a renowned big-toned baritone saxophonist, earns recognition as an inductee of the Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame. An artist with his own distinct style, he carved out his niche in the hard-bop mainstream of the genre.

Brignola, who passed away in 2002, will be inducted into the Eddies Music Hall of Fame as part of the sixth class March 25, at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. For tickets, visit

Born and raised in Troy, Brignola recorded 20 albums—his 1981 album “L.A. Bound” was nominated for a Grammy—and appeared on many others as a guest artist. He shared the stage with the likes of Phil Woods, Woody Herman, Chet Baker and Pepper Adams, and traveled the country with jazz legends like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Chick Corea.

His wife, Yvonne Brignola, said “He loved to play. He loved to be able to express himself through his music.”

Talking about her husband’s magnitude of a career, she added, “The thing about Nick that impressed me the most was…he would give 100 percent when he played, say a wedding, in the same way that he would have played the Smithsonian or Carnegie Hall.”

Coming from a large musical family, Brignola’s grandfather, an immigrant from Italy, played the tuba; his father played the guitar and piano; and an uncle played clarinet. He picked up his first reed instrument, a clarinet, at the age of 11, and never formally took music lessons. But it was the baritone sax that would ultimately bring out the greatness in his abilities.

“[His father] would play the guitar and we would sing. And so, singing was a very big part of family gatherings,” said Yvonne Brignola. “I think he just felt the clarinet is a very light, ethereal kind of instrument. The baritone allows you to shout and yell, and I think it fit his personality. That’s what he wanted to do.”

Brignola won DownBeat magazine’s International Critic’s Poll as “New Star” in 1959 and later topped many annual DownBeat and JazzTimes critic and reader polls as “Best Baritone Saxophonist.” He taught jazz theory and history at several local colleges and helped start a jazz education program at the College of Saint Rose.

“There were times when he was arrogant about it, there were times when he was humble. But he certainly knew that he could play, and he played well enough that he could play with anyone.”

The Hall of Fame ceremony is open to the public and includes musical performances, a social hour, videos on the musical career of each inductee and acceptance speeches. Tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at Proctors in-person, via phone at (518) 346-6204 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday or online by visiting

Universal Preservation Hall and Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame are a part of Proctors Collaborative. For more information on the Hall of Fame visit