Friday, January 20, 2012


Been meaning to get this up for weeks now. This post is the result of unfortunate news, but please do the right thing and enjoy the content - he's worthy of it. If you don't know already, Sam Rivers died the day after Christmas at the age of 88. If you don't know who Sam Rivers is, you're not alone, but it would do you good to familiarize yourself with the man. Hopefully this post will serve as a decent introduction. I will not go into any depth here. There is just way too much area to cover, and many others who are better qualified have written great articles in the last 3 or 4 weeks since his passing for those interested. The ever rewarding destination:OUT put up an excellent post here, and you can listen to a great hour-long audio biography here. Bottom line: there's more to this guy than meets the eye. His influence on the progression and preservation of jazz music is huge and his output was diverse and original. His pioneering in the nyc loft jazz scene of the 1970's alone speaks volumes (here). Both Josh & I seem to gravitate toward multi-instrumentalists in the realm of jazz (don cherry, eric dolphy, yusef lateef, etc...) and in my humble opinion, Sam Rivers is a monster in this regard. He played soprano and tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano as well as others played less frequently. To my ears, saxophone & flute playing was where he thrived most. I have included a handful of my favorite cuts below. They contain original compositions as well as contributions made as a sideman. Session leaders took Rivers on for his traditional slash outward inventiveness. Along these lines, I have ordered the songs to move from a some what traditional tone into a more outward direction. Notice the diversity in his playing. All of these songs represent Sam's original voice. His freedom was boundless. By the way, did I mention that this guy was known as a gentle spirited fellow and a one woman man. He and his wife Beatrice were married 56 years until she died in 2005, and she was his partner and greatest supporter. Classy. Dig in.
Beatrice - Sam Rivers (from Fuchsia Swing Song - 1964)

Love Song - Anthony Williams (from Spring - 1965)

Conference of the Birds - Dave Holland Quartet (from Conference of the Birds - 1972)

Euterpe - Sam Rivers (from Contours - 1965)

Two Pieces of One: Red - Anthony Williams (from Life Time - 1964)

Paean - Sam Rivers (from Dimensions & Extensions - 1967)

Violence [Alternate Take] - Andrew Hill (from Change - 1966)

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