Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan is an adept improviser with a big, warm sound and lithe, swinging style in the Pepper Adams tradition. Born in Bethpage, New York in 1956, Smulyan first started out on the alto saxophone as a teenager and gained early experience sitting in with such luminaries as saxophonist Lee Konitz, trumpeter Chet Baker, violinist Ray Nance, and others. After high school, he honed his skills studying at SUNY-Potsdam and Hofstra University before getting a call to join Woody Herman's Big Band playing the baritone sax chair. With no experience on the bari, Smulyan quickly purchased an instrument and hit the road. For much of the late '70s, he toured with Herman's band, playing alongside such luminaries as saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Marc Johnson, and drummer John Riley. Although he initially thought of himself as a die-hard altoist, during his years with Herman he developed a distinct sound on the baritone, and by the early '80s it had become his primary instrument.