Hamiet Bluiett

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Hamiet Bluiett
Hamiet Bluiett.jpg
Oliver Lake (left) and Hamiet Bluiett
Background information
Born(1940-09-16)September 16, 1940
Brooklyn, Illinois, U.S.
DiedOctober 4, 2018(2018-10-04) (aged 78)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician
InstrumentsSaxophone
Years active1961–2018
Labels India Navigation, Musica, Black Saint, Mapleshade, Knitting Factory, Moers, Justin Time
Associated acts World Saxophone Quartet, D.D. Jackson, Kahil El'Zabar
Website www.hamietbluiett.com

Hamiet Bluiett (BLUE-et; September 16, 1940 – October 4, 2018) [1] was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. His primary instrument was the baritone saxophone, and he was considered one of the finest players of this instrument. A member of the World Saxophone Quartet, he also played (and recorded with) the bass saxophone, E-flat alto clarinet, E-flat contra-alto clarinet, and wooden flute. [2]

Contents

Biography

Bluiett was born just north of East St. Louis in Brooklyn, Illinois (also known as Lovejoy), [3] a predominantly African-American village that had been founded as a free black refuge community in the 1830s, and which later became America's first majority-black town. As a child, he studied piano, trumpet, and clarinet, but was attracted most strongly to the baritone saxophone from the age of ten. He began his musical career by playing the clarinet for barrelhouse dances in Brooklyn, Illinois, before joining the Navy band in 1961. [3] He attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale. [3]

In his mid-twenties, Bluiett heard Harry Carney (the baritone player in the Duke Ellington band) play in a live concert in Boston, which also made a strong impression on the young Bluiett, providing an example of a baritone saxophonist who played as soloist rather than accompanist.

Following his time in the Navy, he returned to the St. Louis area in the mid-1960s. [3] In the late 1960s Bluiett co-founded the Black Artists' Group (BAG) of St. Louis, Missouri, [3] a collective dedicated to fostering creative work in theater, visual arts, dance, poetry, film, and music. He led the BAG big band during 1968 and 1969.

In late 1969, Bluiett moved to New York City, where he joined the Charles Mingus Quintet and the Sam Rivers large ensemble. [3] In 1972, Bluiett joined Charles Mingus and toured to Europe with him. He would often play off and on with him, leaving at some points to play with another band, but would come back a year later. In 1974, Bluiett returned to Mingus and played in quintet alongside George Adams. He also performed in Mingus at Carnegie Hall. He continued to play with Mingus until 1975, when he left to make his own recordings as a leader.

In 1976 he co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet, [3] along with two other Black Artists' Group members, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake, as well as multi-reedist David Murray.

He has remained a champion of the somewhat unwieldy baritone saxophone, organizing large groups of baritone saxophones. In the 1980s, he also founded the Clarinet Family, [3] a group of eight clarinetists playing clarinets of various sizes ranging from E-flat soprano to contrabass. Since the 1990s Bluiett led a quartet, the Bluiett Baritone Nation, made up entirely of baritone saxophones, with drum set accompaniment.

Bluiett also worked with Babatunde Olatunji, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.

He returned to his hometown of Brooklyn, Illinois, in 2002 but moved back to New York City in 2012. In his final years, he performed at gigs, including the New Haven Jazz Festival on August 22, 2009. He performed with students from Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut. The group were known as Hamiet Bluiett and the Improvisational Youth Orchestra. He died in St. Louis, Missouri on October 4, 2018 after a period of declining health. [4]

Discography

As leader

With the World Saxophone Quartet

TitleYearLabel
Point of No Return 1977 Moers
Steppin' with the World Saxophone Quartet 1979 Black Saint
W.S.Q. 1981Black Saint
Revue 1982Black Saint
Live in Zurich 1984Black Saint
Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music 1986Black Saint
Plays Duke Ellington 1986 Elektra / Nonesuch
Dances and Ballads 1987Elektra / Nonesuch
Rhythm and Blues 1989Elektra / Nonesuch
Metamorphosis 1991Elektra / Nonesuch
Moving Right Along 1993Black Saint
Breath of Life 1994Elektra / Nonesuch
Four Now 1996 Justin Time
Takin' It 2 the Next Level 1996Justin Time
Selim Sivad: a Tribute to Miles Davis 1998Justin Time
Requiem for Julius 2000Justin Time
25th Anniversary: The New Chapter 2001Justin Time
Steppenwolf 2002Justin Time
Experience 2004Justin Time
Political Blues 2006Justin Time
Yes We Can [5] 2010Jazzwerkstatt

As sideman

With The 360 Degree Music Experience

With Lester Bowie The Great Pretender

With Anthony Braxton

With James Carter

With Gil Evans

With Craig Harris

With Abdullah Ibrahim

With the Music Revelation Ensemble

With David Murray

With Malachi Thompson

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<i>Dangerously Suite</i> 1981 studio album by Hamiet Bluiett

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<i>Ebu</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Hamiet Bluiett Quartet

Ebu is an album by American jazz saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett recorded in 1984 and released on the Italian Soul Note label.

References

  1. Russonello, Giovanni (2018-10-07). "Hamiet Bluiett, Baritone Saxophone Trailblazer, Dies at 78". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  2. "Hamiet Bluiett - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic . Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 281. ISBN   0-85112-939-0.
  4. "Hamiet Bluiett Dies at 78". Downbeat.com. October 5, 2018.
  5. "Yes We Can - World Saxophone Quartet - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic . Retrieved 6 October 2018.