Rutherford played early in the 1940s with Lionel Hampton and Count Basie; he initially took Jack Washington‘s place in Basie’s orchestra as a baritone saxophonist, and once Washington returned from military service, Rutherford switched to alto saxophone. In 1947 Rutherford moved to Teddy Buckner‘s band, though he continued working with Basie into the early 1950s. He worked with Wilbur De Paris late in the 1950s and appeared with Chuck Berry at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958. In the 1960s he worked with Buddy Tate and spent several years with Earl Hines in the mid-1970s. He worked with Illinois Jacquet in the 1980s and was active in performance until his death.
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