|Birth name||Samuel Carthorne Rivers|
|Born||September 25, 1923|
El Reno, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||December 26, 2011 88) (aged|
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, avant-garde jazz, free jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, bandleader, composer, educator|
|Instrument(s)||Tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica, piano|
|Labels||Blue Note, Impulse, FMP, RCA, Nato, Postcards, Stunt, Timeless, Rivbea Sound, Posi-Tone, Marge|
Samuel Carthorne Rivers (September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011) was an American jazz musician and composer. Though most famously a tenor saxophonist, he also performed on soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica, piano and viola.
Active in jazz since the early 1950s, he earned wider attention during the mid-1960s spread of free jazz. With a thorough command of music theory, orchestration and composition, Rivers was an influential and prominent artist in jazz music.
Rivers was born in El Reno, Oklahoma, United States.His father was a gospel musician who had sung with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Silverstone Quartet, exposing Rivers to music from an early age. His grandfather was Marshall W. Taylor, a religious leader from Kentucky. Rivers was stationed in California in the 1940s during a stint in the Navy. Here he performed semi-regularly with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. Rivers moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1947, where he studied at the Boston Conservatory with Alan Hovhaness.
He performed with Quincy Jones, Herb Pomeroy, Tadd Dameron and others.
In 1959, Rivers began performing with 13-year-old drummer Tony Williams.Rivers was briefly a member of the Miles Davis Quintet in 1964, partly on Williams's recommendation. This edition of the quintet released a single live album, Miles in Tokyo , from a show recorded on July 14 at Kohseinenkin Hall. Rivers' tenure with the quintet was brief: he had engagements in Boston, and his playing style was too avant-garde for Davis during this period; he was replaced by Wayne Shorter shortly thereafter.
Rivers was signed by Blue Note Records, for whom he recorded four albums as leader and made several sideman appearances.Among noted sidemen on his own Blue Note albums were Jaki Byard, who appears on Fuchsia Swing Song , Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard. He appeared on Blue Note recordings by Tony Williams, Andrew Hill and Larry Young.
Rivers derived his music from bebop, but he was an adventurous player, adept at free jazz. The first of his Blue Note albums, Fuchsia Swing Song (1964), adopts an approach sometimes called "inside-outside". Here the performer frequently obliterates the explicit harmonic framework ("going outside") but retains a hidden link so as to be able to return to it in a seamless fashion. Rivers brought the conceptual tools of bebop harmony to a new level in this process, united at all times with the ability to "tell a story", which Lester Young had laid down as a benchmark for the jazz improviser.
His powers as a composer were also in evidence in this period: the ballad "Beatrice" from Fuchsia Swing Song has become an important standard, particularly for tenor saxophonists. For instance, it is the first cut on Joe Henderson's 1985 The State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 , and Stan Getz recorded it during the 1989 sessions eventually issued as Bossas & Ballads – The Lost Sessions .
During the 1970s, Rivers and his wife, Bea, ran a jazz loft called "Studio Rivbea" in New York City's NoHo district. It was located on Bond Street in Lower Manhattan and was originally opened as a public performance space as part of the first New York Musicians Festival in 1970.Critic John Litweiler has written that "In New York Loft Jazz meant Free Jazz in the Seventies" and Studio Rivbea was "the most famous of the lofts". The loft was important in the development of jazz because it was an example of artists creating their own performance spaces and taking responsibility for presenting music to the public. This allowed for music to be free of extra-musical concerns that would be present in a nightclub or concert hall situation. A series of recordings made at the loft were issued under the title Wildflowers on the Douglas label.
Rivers was also recruited by Clifford Thornton to lead a student world-music/free-jazz ensemble at Wesleyan University in 1971.
During this era Rivers continued to record, including several albums for Impulse!: Streams , recorded live at Montreux, Hues (both records contain different trio performances later collated on CD as Trio Live), the quartet album Sizzle and his first big-band disc, Crystals ; perhaps his best-known work from this period though is his appearance on Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds , in the company of Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul.
In the early 1990s, he and his wife Beatrice moved to Florida, in part to expand his orchestra compositions with a reading band in Orlando. This band became the longest-running incarnation of the RivBea Orchestra. He performed regularly with his Orchestra and Trio with bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole (later replaced by Rion Smith.)From 1996 to 1998 he toured and recorded three projects for Nato Records in France with pianist Tony Hymas and others. In 1998, with the assistance of Steve Coleman, he recorded two Grammy-nominated big-band albums for RCA Victor with the RivBea All-Star Orchestra, Culmination and Inspiration (the title-track is an elaborate reworking of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga": Rivers was in Gillespie's band near the end of the trumpeter's life). Other late albums of note include Portrait, a solo recording for FMP, and Vista, a trio with drummers Adam Rudolph and Harris Eisenstadt for Meta. During the late 1990s he appeared on several albums on Postcards Records.
In 2006, he released Aurora, a third CD featuring compositions for his Rivbea Orchestra and the first CD featuring members of his working orchestra in Orlando.
Rivers died from pneumonia on December 26, 2011 at the age of 88 in Orlando, Florida.
With Barry Altschul
With Steven Bernstein
With Miles Davis
With Bruce Ditmas
With Brian Groder
With Andrew Hill
With the Dave Holland Quartet
With John Lee Hooker
With Bobby Hutcherson
With Franklin Kiermyer
With Jason Moran
With the Stephen McCraven Quartet
With Music Revelation Ensemble (James Blood Ulmer)
With Don Pullen
With Kazuko Shiraishi
With Cecil Taylor
With Tony Williams
With Larry Young
With Reggie Workman
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Conference of the Birds is a studio album by jazz bassist Dave Holland, recorded in 1972 and released in 1973. It is his fourth project on ECM Records, and his first as a leader. It is credited on the cover to the “David Holland Quartet”. In reference to the album title, the liner notes describe how birds would congregate each morning outside Holland's London apartment and join with one another in song. It features Holland on acoustic double bass, along with tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, alto saxophonist Anthony Braxton and percussionist Barry Altschul. Braxton and Rivers also play flutes and clarinets throughout the album.
Wildflowers: The New York Loft Jazz Sessions is a series of five albums recorded May 14–23, 1976 at Studio Rivbea, a loft jazz space in New York City, run by Sam Rivers and his wife Bea. The albums include performances by groups led by musicians such as Hamiet Bluiett, Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Dave Burrell, Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Jimmy Lyons, Ken McIntyre, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Sam Rivers, Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, and Randy Weston. The recordings were originally released in 1977 on the Douglas and Casablanca labels as five separate LPs, and were reissued in 1999 by Knit Classics as a 3-CD set.