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Sam Rivers

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Samuel Carthorne Rivers (September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011), was an American jazz musician and composer. He performed on soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano.

Rivers was born in Enid, Oklahoma. Active in jazz since the early 1950s, he earned wider attention during the mid-1960s spread of free jazz. With a thorough command of music theory, orchestration and composition, Rivers was an influential and prominent artist in jazz music.

Rivers’s father was a gospel musician who had sung with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Silverstone Quartet, exposing Rivers to music from an early age. Rivers moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1947, where he studied at the Boston Conservatory with Alan Hovhaness.

He performed with Quincy Jones, Herb Pomeroy, Tadd Dameron and others.

In 1959 Rivers began performing with 13-year-old drummer Tony Williams, who later went on to have an impressive career. Rivers was briefly a member of the Miles Davis’s quintet in 1964, partly at Williams’s recommendation. This quintet was recorded a single album, Miles in Tokyo. However, Rivers’ playing style was too free to be compatible with Davis’s music at this point, and he was soon replaced by Wayne Shorter. Rivers was signed by Blue Note Records, for whom he recorded four albums as leader and made several sideman appearances. Among noted sidemen on his own Blue Note albums were Jaki Byard who appears on Fuchsia Swing Song, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard. He appeared on Blue Note recordings of Tony Williams, Andrew Hill and Larry Young.

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