Sam Rivers 1923-2011 R.I.P.

Sax giant was a
leading light among the jazz avant-garde.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Samuel “Sam” Carthorne Rivers, a hugely influential jazz
sax, flute, clarinet and piano musician and composer, passed away on Monday,
Dec. 26, in Orlando, Fla., at the age of 88. According to his
obituary published today at the New York
Times
the cause of death was pneumonia.

 

Rivers cut his teeth in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, working with
the likes of Miles Davis, Tony Williams, Jaki Byard, Herbie Hancock and Freddie
Hubbard, eventually becoming a prominent player within the free jazz movement.
His best known albums were cut circa 1964-1976 for the Blue Note and Impulse
labels, although he recorded on and off during the ‘80s and ‘90s, while earlier
this year he released the album Sam
Rivers and the Rivbea Orchestra – Trilogy
(Mosaic Records), comprising
2008-09 recordings.

 

Wrote the Times, “His
sound on the tenor saxophone, his primary instrument, was distinctive: taut and
throaty, slightly burred, dark-hued. He also had a recognizable voice on the
soprano saxophone, flute and piano, and as a composer and arranger.”

 

[Photo via Wikimedia Commons, by Robert Auclair]

 

 

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