Melba Liston

Melba Doretta Liston ( born January 13, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri; † 23 April 1999 in Inglewood ) was an American jazz musician (trombone, composition, arrangement ).

Life and work

Liston initially grew up an only child in Kansas City and went in 1936 with her ​​mother to Los Angeles. She started to play at age six trombone, a private staff brought up before the school thanks to perfect pitch in and played in their junior high school band Polytechnical High School ) in a band of music teacher Alma Hightower (Miss Hightower and the Melodic dots ) among other things, with the saxophonist Elvira " Vi " Redd. Liston played right after the band of the Lincoln Theater under Bardu Ali, where they've also arranged, and in 1943 a member of Gerald Wilson's big band, where she began to arrange and already played with Dexter Gordon together. Gordon also urged them to their first recording, 1945. Then (1948 ) she played briefly with Count Basie, and in 1949 she took Dizzy Gillespie, who had heard it in California, in an all- star band in which John Coltrane and Jimmy Heath played, for which they brought also at the request of Gillespie own arrangements. In 1949 she played in the band of Billie Holiday and toured with her ​​in the southern states, but this was a fiasco, as you get there just wanted to hear dance music and modern jazz was little open-minded. The band was stranded in Kansas City and had them sent from Los Angeles money. That was one of the reasons for Liston's temporary withdrawal from the music scene. She was employed from 1950 to 1954 the Ministry of Education, but also acted in the movie The Ten Commandments ( 1956) ( The Ten Commandments ) as harpist with. 1956/1957, she worked again with Gillespie ( tour, for example, the Middle East and appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival) together, then played with Art Blakey and founded his own all- women band. With the musical Free and Easy, and Quincy Jones Big Band, she attended from 1959 to 1960 Europe.

Liston then worked as a composer and arranger for musicians such as Charles Mingus (1962), Duke Ellington (1963 ), Milt Jackson, Count Basie ( with whom she also played ), Dinah Washington and Johnny Griffin and was co-leader of the big band by Clark Terry. Then she worked with youth orchestras in New York and Los Angeles and held temporarily with compositions for Motown Records and arrangements for Eddie Fisher and Diana Ross financially afloat before she taught from 1973 to 1979 at the Jamaica School of Music in Kingston. She then returned to the U.S. after the co- organizers of the Kansas City Woman 's Jazz Festival ( Carol Comer, Dianne Gregg ) convinced her play there, which she did with great success. At this time, the conditions for female jazz instrumentalists (especially on instruments such as trombone) significantly better than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, which was a main reason for their withdrawal then. She led his own bands ( the Septet Melba Liston and Company in 1980, an all-female band) and also participated in the new Gillespie 's big band. After a stroke in 1985 paralyzed they had to give up this activity. But still you created interesting arrangements.

Melba Liston is one of the first women to be recognized in the Jazz music prevail. It has helped, for example, with its surprising and dramatically varied arrangements integral to a successful albums of pianist Randy Weston (eg, Little Niles, blues in Africa, portraits or Spirits of our Ancestors ).


  • Gerald Wilson Gerald Wilson, 1945-1946 ( Classics )
  • Dexter Gordon: Dexter Gordon On Dial: The Complete Sessions ( Spotlite, 1947)
  • Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy In South America (Consolidated Artist, 1956)
  • Ernie Henry: Last Chorus ( OJC, 1956-57 )
  • Dinah Washington: The Fats Waller Songbook ( Emarcy, 1957)
  • Cannonball Adderley: African Waltz ( OJC, 1961)
  • Quincy Jones: Free And Easy ( Ancha, 1960); Strike Up The Band ( Mercury, 1961-64 )
  • Ray Brown: Much in Common ( Verve, 1962-65 )
  • Milt Jackson: Big Bags ( OJC, 1962)
  • Oliver Nelson: Afro / American Sketches ( OJC, 1962)
  • Sam Jones: Right Down Front ( OJC, 1960-62 )
  • Freddie Hubbard: The Body And The Soul ( Impulse, 1963)
  • Shirley Scott Talkin ' Verve ( Verve, 1963-71 )
  • Jimmy Smith: Any Number Can Win ( Verve, 1963)
  • Wes Montgomery Impressions - The Verve Jazz Sides ( Verve, 1964-66 )