Arthur Blythe was born in 1940 in Los Angeles and grew up in San Diego. He took up the alto saxophone at the age of nine, playing R&B until his mid-teens when he discovered jazz. In the mid-1960s he was part of The Underground Musicians and Artists Association (UGMAA), west coast counterpart to Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) founded by Horace Tapscott, on whose 1969 The Giant Is Awakened, Blythe made his recording debut.
He made his big splash on the jazz scene after he moved to New York in his mid-30s and subsequently played with the Gil Evans Orchestra, Jack DeJohnette and McCoy Tyner. Renown for his ripe, passionate, vibrato-rich sound, Blythe recorded on Columbia Records through much of the 1980s and his most recent recorded appeared on the Savant label between 2000 and 2003.
He recently underwent a serious kidney operation, which affected his ability to walk and swallow foods. He is also struggling with Parkinson’s disease. While he’s slowly regaining strength at a rehabilitation centre in California, he needs financial support to pay bills and to get the help of a good neurologist.
Proceeds from this concert will be donated to Arthur Blythe to help him cover health care expenses. via Angel City Jazz
One of the greatest recordings of the New York loft scene, The Grip by Arthur Blythe, 1977, India Navigation Records.
In 1977 Arthur Blythe was 37, and I was 23. He was three years removed from his California roots and I was three years removed from Cleveland. I was trying to create a foothold for great Black music in the bins of The Vermont Book Shop and on the radio at WRMC-fm. I played the shit out of this record. Janet liked it. Buckeye gave it his seal of approval.
Heck, Blythe made a string of classic records for Columbia Records starting the next year. They remain some of the most startling music CBS ever issued!
But, poor health silenced Black Arthur by 2004. This robbed the improv scene of one of its most talented auteurs. Not only was Blythe a virtuoso alto saxophonist–think Sonny Stitt on acid–he was also a terrific conceptualizer of ensembles, and an innovative composer and arranger. He swung, was an avant-gardist, and he drew on the entire history of jazz going right back to jelly roll.
Arthur Blythe has Parkinson’s Disease. he’s been dealt a tough hand. You can help by shelling out a penny short of ten bucks to buy his record, Live at Yoshi’s. It’s been released for the purpose of giving you a chance to give him a hand.
Recorded December 2003 at Yoshi’s Jazz Club Oakland CA (Part of the Eddie Moore Jazz festival)
Performers of the Arthur Blythe quartet are:
Arthur Blythe (alto sax)
Gust William Tsilis (concert grand marimba)
Bob Stewart (tuba)
Eddie Marshall (drums)
All money will go to support Arthur in his fight against Parkinson’s disease. The production company Jazz in Flight donated the recording and all of the musicians are donating their work in support of Mr. Blythe. Please join us to help Arthur.