Saxophonist Pete Yellin, who will be at the One Step Down Friday and Saturday, took violin lessons for several years beginning at age 5. "But out of rebelliousness I rejected music," he said from his New York apartment. "My father was a concert violinist under Toscanini. I was forced to play it and then I decided I didn't want to have anything to do with music and went into sports."
His introduction to jazz occurred in his final year of high school in the late 1950s when he was working as a bellhop at a resort hotel in the Poconos. "My roommate was a jazz fan and used to play records of Arty Shaw, Stan Kenton and Art Pepper. As soon as I heard them I decided I wanted to take up an instrument and that was the kind of music I wanted to play. I got a basketball scholarship to Denver University, and Pepper was working at a club there. When I heard him play, I thought I had to play the alto sax. The team would practice in the gym and the musical instruments were stored there. So I took an alto out of the closet and started fooling around with it. When I got back to New York I started to take lessons."
Yellin was touring the U.S., Europe and the Far East with the Lionel Hampton band before three years had gone by and then spent time with Buddy Rich and Joe Henderson.