He's a woodwind wizard

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

WEST MILFORD —You've heard him play even if you've never heard his name. That's because Bob Magnuson is on the sound track of American culture. From the theme of Good Morning America to commercials for Chevy, McDonalds, Coke and Pepsi, Magnuson can be heard playing one of the many woodwind instruments in his arsenal. Primarily a saxophonist, he also plays the oboe, English horn, flutes, clarinets, ethnic flutes, and wind synthesizers. Magnuson's musical history dates back to when he attended grade school in a building right outside the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey. The music teacher played in the studio orchestra of The Merv Griffin Show. He suggested Bob (who was showing signs of talent) learn to play the oboe. He didn't play it himself, but he began toting the boy into the city for the Merv Griffin rehearsals. During down time, the orchestra's clarinet player gave Bob oboe lessons. "It was a great thing to learn," said Magnuson. "Nobody plays the oboe. In every school there are 30 kids who play clarinet and one nerd with an oboe. That was me." During rehearsal, the 9-year-old would often see then-17-year-old Bernadette Peters. "She was ...wow. That's when I decided I wanted to be involved in show business." Since then, Magnuson has played for numerous Broadway productions, including Sweet Charity and A Chorus Line. He has played with the likes of Tony Bennett and Diana Ross and gone on tour with Buster Poindexter, Jennifer Holiday and Jay Black and the Americans. These days he works mostly from his home in West Milford, recording on his own equipment and using computer technology to serve clients across the country. He is one of the few people who can play a wind synthesizer, which can duplicate a multitude of instruments much more closely than an electronic synthesizer. Magnuson has recorded quite a few of his own albums but his newest CD, Mane Gazane, is with his band of the same name. The four piece band plays smooth jazz, with Magnuson on saxophone. For the past year and half Mane Gazane has been appearing periodically at The Huntsman on Macopin Road in West Milford. The Huntsman has live jazz every Friday night and Magnuson and band are next slated to play on Sept. 30 and Oct. 14. To hear a sampling of his music and learn more about Bob Magnuson, visit his website at www.leftearmusic.com