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Herbie Nichols

Herbie Nichols is a perennially neglected jazz pianist and composer. He recorded less than half of his 170 compositions on three classic trio albums for Blue Note and one for Bethlehem before dying of leukemia at the age of 43 in 1963.

He is often compared to Thelonious Monk, and his piano playing and compositions certainly do have some of the harmonic angularity people associate with Monk. But he had a very distinctive sound of his own, more melancholy and, for lack of a better word, poetic than Monk in many ways. In fact, Nichols was something of a poet, as the titles to his tunes suggest. And he was fully Monk's equal in the quality and individuality of his tunes. He is held in high critical esteem within jazz, although his tunes are still not widely recorded. Outside of jazz circles, the only tune of his anyone is likely to know is "The Lady Sings the Blues," which Billie Holiday set lyrics to and adopted for the title of her autobiography.

Nichols was born in New York in 1919 and died there forty-four years later. In the course of his brief life he was for a time an associate of Monk's, though to consequently call his music Monk-like is to do it a grave disservice. He played with amongst others Milt Larkin and Rex Stewart out of economic necessity. His own harmonically extraordinary music was no small distance removed from theirs.

This is not to imply however that his music amounted merely to an academic exercise. As it was to be with Andrew Hill some years later, Blue Note records afforded Nichols an unprecedented opportunity to record his own music, and he made full use of it, as the three CD set of “The Complete Blue Note Recordings” shows. The music found here comes exclusively from his pen and it was recorded in a bout of concentrated recording activity between May 6, 1955, and April 19, 1956. It was all performed in the trio setting, and throughout Nichols plays with a variety of virtuosity that couldn't be included in any jazz curriculum.

As a player he has capable not only of dark lyricism but also of writing melodies so harmonically adventurous that they can make the listener laugh out loud over their audacity. Furthermore, his music was in a rhythmic league of its own, and Nichols was indeed fortunate in the drummers he worked with in his brief recording career these Blue Note sides find him in the company of both Art Blakey and Max Roach.

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Radio & Podcasts

Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Fay Victor, Marta Sanchez

Read "Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Fay Victor, Marta Sanchez" reviewed by David Brown


This week, we kick off the show with some Philly folks featuring the iconic saxophonist Sam Reed and B-3 Funkster Charles Earland. The music of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder will follow set in a jazz context from artists such as Milt Jackson, Joe Henderson, Charles Kynard, Jackie Byard and Vijay Iyer. Celebrating the release of Fay Victor's Herbie Nichols Sung album, we will compare original Nichols recordings to vocal interpretations. The show will wind down with a vocal tangent ...

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Radio & Podcasts

A Herbie Nichols' Centennial - Part II

Read "A Herbie Nichols' Centennial - Part II" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu


The second part of this week's tribute to Herbie Nichols focuses on the work of champions of his music like Roswell Rudd, Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy and, again, the Herbie Nichols Project with some never-heard-before live recordings from the vaults of the Jazz Composers Collective. For the first part of this Herbie Nichols special click here. Happy listening! Ben Allison “Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00 Pietro Tonolo, Flavio Boltro, ...

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Radio & Podcasts

A Herbie Nichols' Centennial - Part I

Read "A Herbie Nichols' Centennial - Part I" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu


Herbie Nichols was a master of the piano which has inspired generations of musicians after his passing, despite the little commercial success that his albums obtained when first released. 2019 marks the centennial of his birth and to remedy the lack of retrospectives that his work should have, but hasn't received, this year, this week's edition of Mondo Jazz will be looking into the impact that his memorable compositions have had on a number of contemporary artists.

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Radio & Podcasts

Monk and Friends: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, & Elmo Hope in the 1950s (1953 - 1957)

Read "Monk and Friends: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, & Elmo Hope in the 1950s (1953 - 1957)" reviewed by Russell Perry


The 1950s were a very productive decade for Thelonious Monk, perhaps his most productive as a composer. During the fifties his reputation and impact grew tremendously. His influence on other pianists can be seen in the work of Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols, among others. Although neither had the longevity or enjoyed the popularity that Monk did, as the years go by their reputations have grown. In this hour, we will focus on idiosyncratic pianist/composers Thelonious Monk, Herbie ...

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Radio & Podcasts

Nichols, Newk with Kenny/Elmo, Prez & More

Read "Nichols, Newk with Kenny/Elmo, Prez & More" reviewed by Marc Cohn


We're rotating through our 2019 centenarians--this week Herbie Nichols with tracks from his first Blue Note LP. Our artist log tells me it's time for another deep dive into the vault, including another piano faceoff (because you loved the last one): this time Fats Waller versus Teddy Wilson & Art Tatum. There's more Newk too, recordings with Kenny Dorham & Elmo Hope from 1954. And Prez blows the clarinet with Basie live on 52nd Street. Of course, we've got 21st ...

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Radio & Podcasts

January Birthday Salutes

Read "January Birthday Salutes" reviewed by Marc Cohn


Our January Birthdays show is always dedicated to our mentor, WRVR broadcasting hero Ed Beach, born on January 16, 1923; we play his two show themes by Wes Montgomery. We celebrate the Herbie Nichols centennial with his very first recordings for Savoy. Our very special birthday greetings go out to living legends, Benny Golson and Jimmy Cobb, both celebrating their 90th year on the planet. Much more of course; check out the menu below. Don't be shy; hit the play ...

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Extended Analysis

Love, Gloom, Cash, Love

Read "Love, Gloom, Cash, Love" reviewed by Patrick Burnette


Herbie Nichols' story has been told again and again, but it never seems to stick. An idiosyncratic pianist and one of the handful of important jazz composers, he was born in 1919 and dead from leukemia by age forty-four. His best- known song--"Lady Sings the Blues"--is associated with Billie Holiday and I would wager many listeners assume Billie wrote it. He appears as one of the four musicians profiled in A. B. Spellman's Four Lives in the Bebop Business in ...

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Interview

Herbie Nichols Interview in 1962

Herbie Nichols Interview in 1962

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

If you combined records by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Duke Ellington and played the result backward, you'd wind up with Herbie Nichols. Just kidding, but the flavors of all three pianists permeate the essence of Nichols's original music. In truth, Nichols's sound was distinct and robust, and a terrific adventure. [Photo above of Herbie Nichols by Francis Wolff (c)Mosaic Images] Here's the full Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 1. Listen to as much or as little as you wish... Now ...

Video / DVD

Herbie Nichols: The Third World

Herbie Nichols: The Third World

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

In a crowded 1950s jazz universe where every pianist had a distinct artistic footprint, Herbie Nichols was among the most singular. Often compared by critics to Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, Nichols wasn't really much like either keyboard giant. If anything, Nichols' brooding style probably had more in common with Hungarian composer-pianist Béla Bartók and the dark Russian composers he admired as a child. Now, with perspective, he sounds like the father of the churning, modal approach pioneered by piano ...

Performance / Tour

New Herbie Nichols Works To Be Premiered At Jazz Composers Collective Festival At Jazz Standard This Weekend

New Herbie Nichols Works To Be Premiered At Jazz Composers Collective Festival At Jazz Standard This Weekend

Source: AMT Public Relations

The Herbie Nichols Project scheduled for this FRI 11/9 11:30PM + SUN 11/11 9:30PM will premiere five never before recorded or published works by Herbie Nichols (1919-1963). For years, a trunk of Nichols’s manuscripts has been passed down through generations and assumed destroyed and/or lost. However, it was rediscovered about two weeks ago!!! It includes 40 unpublished works in which five will be premiered at Jazz Standard (116 East 27th Street, NYC) this weekend. FRI 11/9 HERBIE NICHOLS PROJECT (11:30 ...

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Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Source:

All About Jazz is celebrating Herbie Nichols' birthday today!

Herbie Nichols is a perennially neglected jazz pianist and composer. He recorded less than half of his 170 compositions on three classic trio albums for Blue Note and one for Bethlehem before dying of leukemia at the age of 43 in 1963. He is often compared to Thelonious Monk, and his piano playing and compositions certainly do have some of the harmonic angularity people associate with Monk...Herbie Nichols is a perennially ...

73

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Source:

All About Jazz is celebrating Herbie Nichols' birthday today!

Herbie Nichols

Herbie Nichols is a perennially neglected jazz pianist and composer. He recorded less than half of his 170 compositions on three classic trio albums for Blue Note and one for Bethlehem before dying of leukemia at the age of 43 in 1963... more

Website | Photos | Articles

Follow Herbie Nichols

Put AAJ's Musician of the Day box on your website ...

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Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Herbie Nichols' birthday today!

JAZZ MUSICIAN OF THE DAY Herbie Nichols

Herbie Nichols is a perennially neglected jazz pianist and composer. He recorded less than half of his 170 compositions on three classic trio albums for Blue Note and one for Bethlehem before dying of leukemia at the age of 43 in 1963... more

Website | Videos | Articles

Follow Herbie Nichols

Put AAJ's Musician ...

153

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Jazz Musician of the Day: Herbie Nichols

Source: Michael Ricci


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Recording

Jimmy Bennington Trio Another Friend; the Music of Herbie Nichols CD

Jimmy Bennington Trio Another Friend; the Music of Herbie Nichols CD

Source: All About Jazz

Another Friend the music of Herbie Nichols. An adventurous live radio broadcast in the the classic piano trio format, with select compositions, original arrangements, and improvised explorations that offer a fresh glimpse into the rich legacy of Herbie Nichols and his magnificent music.

Personnel Jimmy Bennington (drummer/ bandleader) Michael Bisio (bassist) David Haney (pianist)

Tracks

1. Old 52nd St. Rag 2. Another Friend 3. Ina 4. Prancin' Pretty ...

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