I just read of the death, at the age of 88, of the legendary jazz musician Sam Rivers who passed away on 26th December. Sam Rivers was born in 1923 and started playing professionally during the bebop era of the early 1950s. Later he evolved a unique avant garde style that was nevertheless firmly based in the jazz traditions he had grown up with. He was probably best known as a tenor saxophonist, but could also play flute, clarinet, piano and viola.
I first heard Sam Rivers on Humphrey Lyttelton’s BBC Radio Show The Best of Jazz in 1979. Humph was clearly a great admirer of Sam Rivers, especially the superb trio he formed with the brilliant Thurman Barker (drums) and Dave Holland (bass). The energy and vitality of the track he played made a lasting impression on me. The album was called Contrasts, by the way, and the track in question called Zip. I bought the album straight away. At least almost straight away, because it wasn’t the sort of record you could buy in the shops; I had to send away for it.
The following video was made in Germany around the same time featuring the trio mentioned above. It’s in several parts so please click through if you want to see and hear Sam Rivers’ full repertoire of instruments.
It’s very sad to hear of the passing of such a wonderful musician and inspirational figure, but at least we still have the music. Rest in peace, Sam Rivers.Follow @telescoper