The innovative jazz saxophonist, flutist and composer Sam Rivers, who worked with Miles Davis among others, has died over the holiday weekend.
CBC News has reported that the jazz multi-instrumentalist and composer Sam Rivers (September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011) has died at the age of 88 in Orlando, Florida. Rivers died on Monday December 26 from pneumonia although his death was not announced until December 30.
Sam Rivers (born Samuel Carthorne Rivers) played a range of instruments including soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano. According to the New York Daily News Rivers took up the tenor saxophone at the age of 13. As well as mastering many instruments, Rivers was also a leading composer and arranger of jazz music. Rivers released over 22 albums in his career, although his preference was for performing rather than spending time in the studio.
The Orlando Sentinel reports his daughter, Monique Rivers Williams', tribute as: "music was his life, music is what kept him alive. My father, in my eyes, was on vacation all his life. He used to tell me, 'I'm working, but I'm loving every minute of it.' Retirement was not in his vocabulary. 'Why do we even have that word,' he used to ask me, 'there should be no such thing'. "
Rivers worked with such jazz luminaries as Miles Davis, B.B. King, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday and T. Bone Walker, as Funk Music News recalls. Through such collaborations Rivers played an essential role in the abstract and avant-garde jazz movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Rivers was briefly a member of the Miles Davis's quintet and with the group recorded the album "Miles in Tokyo" in 1964.
Rivers' most notable works were for the prestigious Blue Note label, where he produced works in the 'free jazz' style (experimental and avant-garde music) including "Fuchsia Swing Song" (which the New York Times called a "landmark of experimental post-bop, with a free-flowing yet structurally sound style"). He later recorded with the Impulse! label in the 1970s, pioneering what Rolling Stone magazine describes as the "loft jazz scene", and had moved onto big band style projects in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, latterly with the Rivbea Orchestra.
Jazz music has lost one of its leading proponents of the innovative style of the post-war era.