The World Saxophone Quartet is an avant-garde jazz group founded in 1977, implementing elements of free funk and African jazz into their musical routines.
The original members were Julius Hemphill (alto and soprano saxophone, flute), Oliver Lake (alto and soprano saxophone), Hamiet Bluiett (baritone saxophone, alto clarinet), and David Murray (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet). The first three had worked together as members of the Black Artists' Group in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1989, Hemphill left the group due to illness, and several saxophonists have filled his chair in the years since. The first of these was Arthur Blythe, followed by Eric Person, James Spaulding, and John Purcell.
The group principally recorded and performed as a saxophone quartet, usually with a lineup of two altos, tenor, and baritone (reflecting the composition of a classical string quartet), but were also joined occasionally by drummers, bassists, and other musicians.
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