Arthur Blythe

Last updated

Arthur Blythe
Arthur Blythe 1989.jpg
Blythe at the North Sea Jazz Festival with The Leaders, 1989
Background information
Birth nameArthur Murray Blythe
Also known asBlack Arthur
Born(1940-07-05)July 5, 1940
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 27, 2017(2017-03-27) (aged 76)
Lancaster, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader, composer
Instruments Alto saxophone
Years active1969–2017
Labels Columbia, Enja, Savant Records

Arthur Murray Blythe (May 7, 1940 – March 27, 2017) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and composer. He was described by critic Chris Kelsey as displaying "one of the most easily recognizable alto sax sounds in jazz, big and round, with a fast, wide vibrato and an aggressive, precise manner of phrasing" and furthermore as straddling the avant garde and traditionalist jazz, often with bands featuring unusual instrumentation. [1]

Contents

Biography

Arthur Blythe at Keystone Korner, San Francisco CA 3/81 Arthur Blythe.jpg
Arthur Blythe at Keystone Korner, San Francisco CA 3/81

Born in Los Angeles, Blythe lived in San Diego, returning to Los Angeles when he was 19 years old. [2] He took up the alto saxophone at the age of nine, playing R&B until his mid-teens when he discovered jazz. [3] In the mid-1960s, Blythe was part of the Underground Musicians and Artists Association (UGMAA), founded by Horace Tapscott, on whose 1969 The Giant Is Awakened he made his recording debut. [2]

After moving to New York in the mid-1970s, Blythe worked as a security guard before being offered a place as sideman for Chico Hamilton [3] (1975–77). He subsequently played with Gil Evans' Orchestra (1976–78), Lester Bowie (1978), Jack DeJohnette (1979) and McCoy Tyner (also 1979). [4] Blythe's group – John Hicks, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall – played Carnegie Hall and the Village Vanguard in 1979.

In 1977, Blythe appeared on the LP Rhythmatism, a recording led by drummer Steve Reid. Reviewing in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau highlighted Blythe's "forceful" alto-saxophone playing and said, "like so many of the new players Blythe isn't limited to modern methods by his modernism—he favors fluent, straight-ahead Coltrane modalities, but also demonstrates why he belongs on a tune for Cannonball." [5]

Blythe began to record as a leader in 1977 for the India Navigation label and then for Columbia Records from 1978 to 1987. Bob Stewart's tuba was a regular feature of these albums, often taking the place of the more traditional string bass. Albums such as The Grip and Metamorphosis (both on the label) offered capable, highly refined jazz fare with a free angle which seemed "out there".[ original research? ] Blythe played on many pivotal albums of the 1980s, among them Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition on ECM. Blythe was a member of the all-star jazz group The Leaders and joined the World Saxophone Quartet after the departure of Julius Hemphill . Beginning in 2000 he made recordings on Savant Records which included Exhale (2003) with John Hicks (piano), Bob Stewart (tuba), and Cecil Brooks III (drums).[ citation needed ]

Blythe died from complications of Parkinson's disease in Lancaster, California, at the age of 76. [6] [7]

Discography

As leader

YearTitleLabel
1977 The Grip India Navigation
1977 Metamorphosis India Navigation
1977 Bush Baby Adelphi
1978 In the Tradition Columbia
1978 Lenox Avenue Breakdown Columbia
1980 Illusions Columbia
1981 Blythe Spirit Columbia
1982 Elaborations Columbia
1983 Light Blue: Arthur Blythe Plays Thelonious Monk Columbia
1984 Put Sunshine in It Columbia
1986 Da-Da Columbia
1987 Basic Blythe Columbia
1991 Hipmotism Enja
1994 Retroflection Enja
1995 Calling Card Enja
1996 Synergy In + Out
1997 Night Song Clarity
1997 Today's Blues CIMP
2000 Spirits in the Field Savant
2001 Blythe Byte Savant
2002 Focus Savant
2003 Exhale Savant

Collaborations

With Synthesis

With The Leaders

With Roots

With Santi Debriano and Billy Hart

With Jeff Palmer, John Abercrombie, Victor Lewis

With David Eyges and Bruce Ditmas

With John Abercrombie, Terri Lyne Carrington, Anthony Cox, Mark Feldman, Gust Tsilis

As sideman

With Joey Baron

With Lester Bowie

With Jack DeJohnette

With Gil Evans

With John Fischer

With Chico Freeman

With Chico Hamilton

With Craig Harris

With Julius Hemphill

With Azar Lawrence

With the Music Revelation Ensemble

With Woody Shaw

With Horace Tapscott

With Gust William Tsilis & Alithea

With McCoy Tyner

With the World Saxophone Quartet

Related Research Articles

Steve Lacy (saxophonist) American saxophonist; jazz composer

Steve Lacy, born Steven Norman Lackritz in New York City, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer recognized as one of the important players of soprano saxophone. Coming to prominence in the 1950s as a progressive dixieland musician, Lacy went on to a long and prolific career. He worked extensively in experimental jazz and to a lesser extent in free improvisation, but Lacy's music was typically melodic and tightly-structured. Lacy also became a highly distinctive composer, with compositions often built out of little more than a single questioning phrase, repeated several times.

Jack DeJohnette American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer

Jack DeJohnette is an American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer.

Lester Bowie American jazz trumpet player and composer (1941-1999)

Lester Bowie was an American jazz trumpet player and composer. He was a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and co-founded the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Julius Hemphill American jazz composer and saxophone player

Julius Arthur Hemphill was a jazz composer and saxophone player. He performed mainly on alto saxophone, less often on soprano and tenor saxophones and flute.

James Carter (musician) American jazz musician

James Carter is an American jazz musician. He is the cousin of jazz violinist Regina Carter.

Bob Stewart (musician) Musical artist

Bob Stewart, is an American jazz tuba player. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and his master's degree in education from Lehman College Graduate School. Stewart taught music in Pennsylvania public schools and at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. He is now a professor at the Juilliard School and is a "distinguished lecturer" at Lehman College.

George Adams (musician) Musical artist

George Rufus Adams was an American jazz musician who played tenor saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. He is best known for his work with Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Roy Haynes and in the quartet he co-led with pianist Don Pullen, featuring bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Dannie Richmond. He was also known for his idiosyncratic singing.

John Abercrombie (guitarist) American jazz guitarist

John Laird Abercrombie was an American jazz guitarist. His work explored jazz fusion, free jazz, and avant-garde jazz. Abercrombie studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He was known for his understated style and his work with organ trios.

Eric Person Musical artist

Eric Person is an American alto and soprano saxophone player and leader of Meta-Four and Metamorphosis. Since coming to New York City in 1982, Person has performed with a who's who list of legends on the jazz and rock scene. He's performed and recorded with jazz masters:McCoy Tyner, Dave Holland, Houston Person, Donald Byrd, Chico Hamilton, John Hicks and World Saxophone Quartet. In rock, funk and world music:Vernon Reid, Ben Harper, Ofra Haza and Bootsy Collins.

Fred Hopkins was a double bassist who played a major role in the development of the avant-garde jazz movement. He was best known for his association with the trio Air with Henry Threadgill and Steve McCall, and for his numerous performances and extensive recordings with major jazz musicians such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Arthur Blythe, Oliver Lake, and David Murray. He was a member of the AACM, and a frequent participant in the loft jazz scene of the 1970s. He also co-led a number of albums with the composer and cellist Diedre Murray. Gary Giddins wrote that Hopkins' playing "fused audacious power with mercuric reflexes." Howard Reich, writing in the Chicago Tribune, stated that "many connoisseurs considered [Hopkins] the most accomplished jazz bassist of his generation" and praised him for "the extraordinarily fluid technique, sumptuous tone and innovative methods he brought to his instrument."

Ronnie Burrage is an American jazz drummer. His style draws from jazz, funk, and soul.

John Raymond Purcell is an American jazz saxophonist.

<i>Mudfoot</i> 1986 studio album by The Leaders

Mudfoot is the debut album by the all-star jazz group The Leaders released on the Black Hawk label in 1986. The album features performances by Lester Bowie, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Cecil McBee, Kirk Lightsey and Don Moye.

<i>Special Edition</i> (Jack DeJohnette album) 1980 studio album by Jack DeJohnette

Special Edition is an album by Jack DeJohnette featuring David Murray, Arthur Blythe and Peter Warren recorded in 1979 released on the ECM label in 1980. The AllMusic review by Scott Yanow states, "The first of Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition ensembles offered a sound that in many ways was revolutionary in modern contemporary and creative improvised music circa 1980... This CD deserves a definitive five-star rating for the lofty place it commands in the evolution of jazz headed toward new heights and horizons". A JazzTimes reviewer selected it in 2012 as one of DeJohnette's key albums.

Phillip Sanford Wilson was an American blues and jazz drummer, a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Sweet Basil Jazz Club

Sweet Basil was a jazz club in New York City's Greenwich Village, located at 88 7th Avenue South. Founded in 1974 by Sharif Esmat, it was considered among the most prominent jazz clubs in New York. Many jazz albums were recorded live at Sweet Basil, including Cecil Taylor's Iwontunwonsi, McCoy Tyner's Live at Sweet Basil (1989) and Solar: Live at Sweet Basil, and the Jean-Michel Pilc Trio's Together: Live at Sweet Basil. From 1981 to 1992 the club was owned by Phyllis Litoff and her husband Mel Litoff.

<i>Parabola</i> (album) 1979 studio album by Gil Evans Orchestra

Parabola is a double album by jazz composer, arranger, conductor and pianist Gil Evans recorded in Italy in 1978 by Evans with an orchestra featuring Arthur Blythe, Steve Lacy and Lew Soloff and released on the Italian Horo label.

<i>Gil Evans Live at the Royal Festival Hall London 1978</i> 1979 live album by Gil Evans

Gil Evans Live at the Royal Festival Hall London 1978 is a live album by jazz composer, arranger, conductor and pianist Gil Evans recorded in London in 1978 by Evans with an orchestra featuring Arthur Blythe, George Adams, and Lew Soloff and released on RCA label.

<i>In the Name of...</i> 1994 studio album by Music Revelation Ensemble

In the Name of... is an album by James Blood Ulmer's Music Revelation Ensemble, with guest saxophonist Sam Rivers, Arthur Blythe and Hamiet Bluiett, recorded in 1993 and released on the Japanese DIW label.

This is the discography for American jazz musician Chico Freeman.

References

  1. Kelsey, Chris. "Arthur Blythe Biography". AllMusic . All Media Network . Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  2. 1 2 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who’s Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 53/4. ISBN   0-85112-580-8.
  3. 1 2 Young, Bob; Stankus, Al (1992). Jazz Cooks. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. pp. 14–15. ISBN   1-55670-192-6.
  4. "Arthur Blythe Biography". All About Jazz . Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  5. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies . Robertchristgau.com. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN   089919026X . Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  6. Russonello, Giovanni (March 29, 2017). "Arthur Blythe, Jazz Saxophonist Who Mixed Sultry and Strident, Dies at 76". The New York Times .
  7. Varga, George (March 28, 2017). "Jazz great Arthur Blythe, who grew up in San Diego, is dead at 76". The San Diego Union-Tribune . Retrieved March 28, 2017.