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Melba Liston

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Biography

Melba Doretta Liston (January 13, 1926 – April 23, 1999) was an American musician (, compositions, musical arrangements). Her collaborations with pianist / composer Randy Weston, beginning in the early 1960s, are widely acknowledged as .

Life and career

Liston was born in Kansas City, Missouri. After playing in youth bands and studying with Alma Hightower and others, she joined the big band led by Gerald Wilson in 1943. She began to work with the emerging major names of the bebop scene in the mid-1940s. She recorded with saxophonist Dexter Gordon in 1947, and joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band (which included saxophonists John Coltrane, Paul Gonsalves, and pianist John Lewis) in New York for a time, when Wilson disbanded his orchestra in 1948. She toured with Count Basie for a time, and then with Billie Holliday (1949) but was so profoundly affected by the indifference of the audiences and the rigors of the road that she gave up playing.

She took a clerical job for some years, and supplemented her income by taking work as an extra in Hollywood, including appearances in The Prodigal (1955) and The Ten Commandments (1956). She re-joined Gillespie for tours sponsored by the US State Department in 1956 and 1957, recorded with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1957), and formed her own all-women quintet in 1958. In 1959, she visited Europe with the show Free and Easy, for which Quincy Jones was music director. She accompanied Mr.B (Billy Eckstine) with the Orchestra of Quincy Jones (“At Basin Street East”: original release, Oct. 1 1961 for Verve Records).

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  • ChristFollower3

    “A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.” –Proverbs 6:12-15

    22 Mar 12:44am Reply
  • kmullin

    she's quite good

    15 Jun 2012 Reply

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