Sam Rivers

Samuel "Sam" Carthorne Rivers ( born September 25, 1923 in El Reno, Oklahoma, † December 26, 2011 in Orlando, Florida ) was an American jazz musician ( tenor and soprano saxophone, piano, flute, composition).


Rivers comes from a musical family. His grandfather Marshall W. Taylor published in 1882 a collection of revival hymns and melodies that are sung on plantations. The mother was a pianist, her father was a gospel singer and sang with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Silverstone Quartet. At the age of five years, Rivers began with the piano, then learned the violin and alto saxophone and played with twelve years in a marching band soprano saxophone. At Texan Jarvis Christian College, he learned then tenor saxophone. After military service, he studied from 1947 at the Conservatory of Boston composition, viola and violin. At night he worked, meanwhile, in a bar as a saxophonist; he also played with Quincy Jones, Jaki Byard, Joe Gordon, Tadd Dameron and Herb Pomeroy. Between 1955 and 1957 he lived in Florida, where he participated in Jazz & Poetry programs and collaborated with singers and dancers. He also accompanied Billie Holiday with their live performances. In 1958 he again worked in Boston at Herb Pommeroy and had his own quartet ( drummer was the young Tony Williams).

At the beginning of the 1960s to Rivers explained to the music of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor; the same time, he led a band that accompanied guest appearances from BB King and Wilson Pickett and went with T -Bone Walker on tour. In 1964, he worked for six months with Miles Davis and went with this on tour in the United States and Japan ( Miles in Tokyo). Then he came at Blue Note under contract with Jaki Byard and took, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard boards as a bandleader, but has also been heard on records by Tony Williams, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson and Larry Young ( Dialogue ).

In 1967 he moved to New York City to teach in his loft studio in Harlem. Between 1968 and 1973 he played with Cecil Taylor. Since 1968, he also served as composer in residence at the Harlem Opera Society. 1971 extended he and his wife Bea her Rivbea studio to a gig studio where Rivers Bands musician friends from the Loftszene presented ( Wildflowers - The New York Jazz Loft Sessions 1976), but also with his own group and guest musicians like Dewey Redman, Clifford Jordan and Sonny Fortune occurred. In 1975 he worked with the Symphony Orchestra of San Francisco. In 1978 he was at the Newport Jazz Festival to present the World of Sam Rivers. With Dave Holland he also appeared in Europe in duo and trio. Since the mid- 1970s he devoted himself more to the piano and the flute and used often in a set on his four main instruments each playing a piece. In the late 1980s he was also with Dizzy Gillespie on the go. Last Rivers lived in Orlando, Florida, and worked with his trio A ( Anthony Cole and Doug Matthews).

Rivers was at times also worked as a high school teacher; he taught at Wesleyan University.

Disco Graphical Notes

  • Fuchsia Swing Song, Blue Note 1964.
  • Contours, Blue Note 1965.
  • A New Conception, Blue Note
  • Crystals, a large ensemble work, Impulse! Records, 1974
  • Waves, Tomato, 1978.
  • Inspiration, RCA Victor, 1999.
  • Culmination, RCA Victor, 2000.
  • Sam Rivers and the Rivbea Orchestra - Trilogy, Mosaic, 2008/ 09