"Tell them what they missed."

Sam Rivers went home December 26, 2011 at 8:50 PM at the age of 88 in Orlando, Florida.

Memorial services are to be held at A Community Funeral Home - January 4, 2012 At 7:00 PM
(910 W. Michigan St., Orlando FL 32805)
Plants only, please no flowers

Extravaganza Memorial Jam Tribute will be held at The Social - January 4, 2012 at 9:00 PM
(54 N. Orange Ave. Orlando Fl 32801

Sam Rivers leaves behind

  • 4 children
    • Dr. Samuel C. Rivers III of Randolph, MA
    • Cindy Johnson of Mt. Dora, FL
    • Monique Rivers Williams of Apopka, FL
    • Traci Tozzi of Glen Rock, NJ
  • 5 grandchildren
    • Iisha Reyes
    • Tamara Rivers
    • Irin Rivers
    • Tiffany Hallacy
    • Jessica Rivers
  • 8 great grandchildren
    • Devon
    • Destiny
    • Deja
    • Brianna
    • Devante
    • Elijah
    • Joseph
    • Johnathan



Listen to "Beatrice" from Fuschia Swing Song
(Blue Note, 1964,
with Jacki Byard, Ron Carter & Tony Williams)

Sam Rivers is one of the greatest jazz legends of our time, performing for over 70 years. In the 1970’s he was the first artist to open a jazz cultural arts center in Greenwich New York, which was used as a venue to help artist exhibit their talents and gain recognition. Sam has maintained his various bands; The Sam Rivers Trio, The Sam Rivers Quartet and The Rivbea Orchestra.

Over the years Sam Rivers has composed a myriad of scribbles, musical phrases, technically difficult, twists, turns and whatever ideas he would conceive similar to an exercise in free association. Thematic material, which he estimates; will take at least a decade to expand into compositions ranging from 5 to 50 minutes. Through habit and as a mental exercise, he composed at least a page a day through a speed process of 15 minutes to a half an hour.

Sam Rivers’ entire life has entailed being an improviser, principle soloist and solo performer. His musical thoughts are transferred to paper in the same way that he improvises. He writes down improvisations as if he is performing a spontaneous creative composition.

Sam spent most of his time copying each part as he does in composing; trying to make each part a solo. He stated that each part should be able to perform alone with the bass and drums.

This music is part of his repertoire of over 400 original compositions for a Jazz Orchestra. Two of the compositions have been commissioned by, and all are dedicated to, the Lincoln Center for the Arts.

"I have the distinct honor of being the only musician in the history of jazz to have performed and/or recorded with the most important musicians in blues, swing, bebop and the avant garde."

He has been playing solo or with various artist in bands with a multitude of some of the greatest musicians of this century. Such musicians as:

Dizzy Gillespie, Cecil Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Miles Davis, Billy Holliday, Winton & Branford Marsalas , BB King, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Witherspoon, T-Bone Walker, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Dave Holland, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton, Kevin Eubanks, Ron Carter, Arthur Blythe, Nathan Davis, Chico Freeman, Santi Debriano, Norman Connors, Joe Daley, Thurman Barker, Hal Galper, WarrenSmith, Archie Shepp, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Roy Hargrove, Thurman Barker, Chaka Kahn as well as 100's of others.

The 2 time Grammy Award Nominee felt truly fortunate to be able to present to you some of the music he has spent his life creating.

"Tell them what they missed."

(Sam's parting words at many of his concerts.)

direct Sam-related correspondence to
Monique Rivers Williams
3857 Old Dunn Road
Apopka FL 32712

Phone & fax: 407 841 3700
Cell: 407-690-7025


MySpace



LISTEN NOW to Sam Rivers on Nancy Wilson's
Jazz Profiles - "Blowin' Against the Wind",
about 53 minutes, RealAudio,
with thanks to National Public Radio
For the most complete Sam Rivers disc-, session-, and gig- ography
from the early 60's to the day before yesterday, see Rick Lopez' remarkable
The Whole Shebang!

Here are a few of the great albums where you can hear Sam Rivers:
Fuchsia Swing Song
1964
Sam Rivers:
Fuchsia Swing Song
1998
Sam Rivers'
RivBea All-Star Orchestra:
Inspiration
Culmination
1998
Sam Rivers'
RivBea All-Star Orchestra:
Culmination
2003
Nojo
with Sam Rivers:
City of Neighbourhoods
1965
Bobby Hutcherson:
Dialogue
Dialogue
2001
Jason Moran:
Black Stars
Jason Moran
1964
Tony Williams:
Life Time
Lifetime
Sam and Dave
1976
Sam Rivers /
Dave Holland

Vol. 2
Sam and Dave volume 2
1976
Sam Rivers /
Dave Holland

Vol. 1
1994
Bruce Ditmas:
What If
What If
1996
Julian Priester
/Sam Rivers:
Hints on Light and Shadow
Hints of Light and Shadow
1974
Sam Rivers:
Crystals
Vista
2003
Sam Rivers - Adam Rudolph - Harris Eisenstadt:
Vista
Revalation
1993
Music Revelation Ensemble:
In the Name of...
1972
Dave Holland:
Conference of the Birds
Conference of the Birds
1997
Sam Rivers & Alexander Schlippenbach:
Tangens
Tangens
1982
Sam Rivers'
Winds of Manhattan:
Colours
Colours
Configuration
1996
Sam Rivers:
Configuration
Miles in Tokyo
1964
Miles Davis Quintet:
Miles in Tokyo
Cerebral Caverns
1995
Reggie Workman:
Cerebral Caverns
1978
Sam Rivers:
Waves
Waves
1965
Sam Rivers:
Contours
Contours
1995
Sam Rivers:
Portrait
Portrait
Diaspora
2002
Steven Bernstein:
Diaspora Blues
Firestorm
2000
Sam Rivers Trio: Firestorm
Into Somethin
1964
Larry Young:
Into Somethin'
Sam Rivers Trio Live
1973
Sam Rivers:
Trio Live
2003
Sam Rivers:
Celebration
Celebration
1965
Tony Williams:
Spring
Spring
1993
Reggie Workman:
Summit Conference
Summit

SrorchAlthough considered avant garde, the music on these important records evinced a thoughtful classicism that was a refreshing departure from the hedonistic hollering that was increasingly dominating the free jazz movement. He would later work in Cecil Taylors Unit with Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille, describing the encounter "as one of the exhilarating experiences of my career."

Similarly exciting was Rivers' intuitive and inventive trio, featuring Dave Holland on bass and Barry Altschul on drums, which would spontaneously create inspired music for hours on end as the leader moved from tenor to soprano saxophone, to flute, to piano and back, punctuating the music with his patented whooping exclamations of joy.

Just as important as his creativity as a musician, was Rivers' role as the patriarch of the New York City downtown loft jazz scene in the 70s. He was the proprietor (with his wife Bea) of the world famous Studio Rivbea on Bond Street, in what is now called Noho.

"I was just there at the right time," he humbly opines, "because it just so happens there was an influx of musicians they all decided to come to New York at the same time. I had a performance space where I was just rehearsing, but then I started giving concerts and we were known all around the world."

Wildflowers, a five record set, recorded during a single week of performances, is a Who's Who of the free jazz movement of the day, documenting the importance of the venue.

The musicians performing on the discs included, among others, Ahmed Abdullah, Hamiet Bluiett, Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Dave Burrell, Jerome Cooper, Andrew Cyrille, Olu Dara, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Jimmy Lyons, Ken McIntyre, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Leo Smith, and Henry Threadgill, many of whom were barely known in the U.S. at the time.

Not long after the release of the records, Rivers closed the Rivbea and moved to New Jersey. He remembers, "I stopped doing it in New York because once the guys got known, the clubs started hiring them. I couldn't pay the kind of money the clubs were because I wasn't really charging. I would ask for a donation. I wasn't selling all this whiskey. If you wanted a beer you'd bring it yourself."

During the 80's, Rivers lead several progressive electric quartets featuring guitarists Kevin Eubanks, Darryl Thompson and Ed Cherry. It was the latter's membership in his quartet that led Rivers to a somewhat surprising stint with Dizzy Gillespie.

"Ed Cherry was in my band and Dizzy called him, so I just called because Ed Cherry said that Dizzy was making up a new band," Rivers recalls. "I just called up Dizzy. I said, Merry Christmas, Dizzy, [it was Christmas], if you ever need a tenor player give me a call. He said, 'What's your name. What's your number?' And the next week he called me. It was the start of a new thing. Ignacio Berroa on drums. John Lee on bass. Ed Cherry, myself and Dizzy. Very good group, an excellent group, I loved playing with them. I was also with the United Nations Band, Dizzy's orchestra. I stayed with Dizzy for four years."

It was during his tenure with Gillespie that Rivers relocated to Orlando, Florida. "We were traveling all around, and I could have gone anywhere," he remembers. "We were planning to leave New York, so I could have gone to New Mexico or Arizona or California, you know, or Seattle. I had offers from all of those places to teach. But I didn't want to teach, and the musicians down here they said we have enough musicians, if you want to come down here, there's a big band waiting for you with your music. And that's why I came here; the musicians were so good. All the musicians in my orchestra, my jazz orchestra, are all professors of music. They all teach here. It's quite an organization. I mean, I'm very fortunate because I can bring in all my music, anything I write, and these musicians are able to play it the first time down. So, I mean it's a very, very, very great experience for me."

Rivers more traditional orchestral jazz is documented on two Grammy nominated RCA compact discs, Inspiration and Culmination , by his Rivbea All-Star Orchestra. Aurora, by the Orlando orchestra, is more representative of his current work.

The nucleus of both ensembles is Rivers' trio of the past 12 years, with Doug Mathews and Anthony Cole; a group he proudly describes as "unique" in the history of jazz. The union of the three multi-instrumentalists is the most versatile, small group, making music today, sometimes replicating the style of the leader's earlier trios and resembling the World Saxophone Quartet or Cecil Taylors Unit. Rivers explains, "Doug is a classical musician. He reads on bass clarinet, on double bass violin, also on bass guitar and drums. Anthony plays drums; he also plays tenor saxophone and sometimes we have compositions for two pianos with Anthony and myself. And then sometimes, Anthony can play the electric bass guitar and Doug plays drums. So we have it all covered. It's never been done before. And when were finished, they know its unique. They'll never hear anything like it again their lifetime. Unless they hear me again."

In a recent concert in San Diego, trombonist George Lewis and pianist Anthony Davis joined the group. An all star cast will play at an upcoming engagement at the Iridium. The saxophonist, who appeared on Reggie Workman's Summit Conference and Cerebral Caverns discs, and with Jason Moran on his Black Stars date, would have preferred to perform with his own group, but is nonetheless excited about the appearance.

"You don't need compositions for the trio," he says. "You really don't need any music at all, but we do have some themes. We have some melodies we will improvise on and some free things, also. There's no real set program. We like to surprise ourselves, too. I haven't the faintest idea whats going to happen - I like it that way. I look forward to it because I dont know what's going to happen. It's far more challenging than if I knew what was going to happen, then it might even get boring."

There's little chance of boredom happening with Rivers on the bandstand. Although he has already changed the course of jazz, he continues to look to the future.

"One day I'm going to get a grant and I'm going to show everybody," he says. "They give these grants to people and they get these grants and you never hear from them again. I feel that they probably know that I would do something with it. I would create a scene like I did in New York on my own money, like Studio Rivbea. I would like to get a grant so I could change the course of the music, preserve some of the music that creative musicians are doing... because I know how to do it."

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