Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RIP Sam Rivers

I have fond memories of seeing Sam Rivers, circa 1999, at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, where, stylishly dressed and exuding professionalism, he charmed the audience with relaxed, amusing anecdotes and an engaging speaking style in between intense and enjoyable bursts of quite-hot free jazz, which he played on a few different instruments. Though I had spun albums he'd appeared on, I hadn't expected half as enjoyable a show as I got, and felt afterwards that I'd been treated to a glimpse of the African-American roots of outside jazz, with Rivers as an emissary of the world of Ayler and Coltrane and Coleman and Dolphy and Marion Brown and Dewey Redman and Roscoe Mitchell and so forth. It felt like a privilege - all the moreso since all but two names on the list are now gone. Rest in peace, Sam Rivers.

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