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Herbie Nichols


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Herbie Nichols (January 3, 1919 – April 12, 1963), was an American jazz pianist and composer. Obscure during his lifetime, he is now highly regarded by many musicians and critics.
Herbie was born in New York City. During much of his life he was forced to take work as a Dixieland musician instead of playing the types of jazz he preferred. He performed originally in bop groups, but is best known today for his own highly original compositions, program music which combines bop, Dixieland, and West Indian music with harmonies derived from Erik Satie and Béla Bartók.

His first known work was with the Savoy Sultans in 1937, but he did not find performing at Minton’s Playhouse a few years later a very happy experience. The competitive atmosphere of that scene did not suit his personality. He did though become friends with fellow pianist Thelonious Monk, even if his own critical neglect would be more enduring.
From about 1947 he persisted in trying to persuade Blue Note Records producer to sign him up. He finally recorded for Blue Note in 1955 and 1956, which led to the issue of three albums. Other tracks from these sessions were not issued until the 1980s. His tune “Serenade” had lyrics added, and as “Lady Sings the Blues” became firmly identified with Billie Holiday. In 1957 he recorded his last album for Bethlehem Records. All of his recordings as leader have been released on CD.
Nichols died from leukemia at the age of 44.


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  • PeaceloveK

    ♥"Laughter is like a religion to me. Sometimes I may seem low nothing will lift me up again...but really, I'm laughing like hell inside. This music is something to live for...something to be taken seriously, but not serious. Those musicians who get up on the stand and look they're undertakers bother me. If I want to cry, I'll cry in a corner, and cry to myself. Music is joy, and living—not death."

    14 Oct 9:58pm Reply
  • PeaceloveK

    ♡♡♡ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

    2 Jul 12:18pm Reply
  • PeaceloveK

    Great pianist and composer. Really underrated. His compositions make me crazy)) In good way))

    17 May 4:11pm Reply
  • capodoglio

    ccex: Probably because he recorded very little at all and died prematurely. Why is it that his sole composition to be played by another musician became an evergreen? As soon as they come into the spotlight, they shine. 23,536 listeners at the moment.

    9 Mar 2013 Reply
  • toztizokzndz


    2 Mar 2013 Reply
  • sGarrista-


    5 Jan 2010 Reply
  • xbountyhunterx

    House Party Starting!

    15 Dec 2009 Reply
  • gozkoray

    terrific composer.

    5 Aug 2009 Reply
  • gakko

    Well ccex, according to the counter, at least he has 10,129 listeners here on last fm. It could have been better of course, but so many great jazz artists has between 10-300 listeners, so I´m not convinced yet if this is the place to "shout"!

    27 Apr 2009 Reply
  • jazzydane

    One word says it all: brilliant!

    1 Dec 2008 Reply
  • ccex

    Why is it that 45 years after Herbie Nichols' death he is known only to hardcore jazz geeks while his peer Thelonious Monk is an academically respectable composer who even newbie hipsters figure they have to listen to? I'm not dissing my main man Monk;, who has inspired me for 30+ years, but wonder why Herbie Nichols never got recognition in his lifetime. Is it because he never recorded with famous horn players or refused to wear unusual hats, suits, or haircuts, or show off on stage? If you're reading this, he has connected to you. Why didn't his music connect with more than the very few who could listen to it on its own strengths?

    23 Sep 2008 Reply
  • F_Hole

    Bop different

    5 Apr 2008 Reply
  • zrsullivan


    16 Feb 2008 Reply

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