Born in Marianna, Arkansas in 1942, Oliver moved to St.
Louis at the age of two. He began drawing at the age of
thirteen (and paints daily, using oil, acrylics, wood, canvas,
and mixed media), and soon after began playing cymbals
and bass drum in various drum and bugle corps. At 17, he
began to take a serious interest in jazz.
Like many other members of BAG and its Chicago-based
sister organization, the Association for the Advancement of
Creative Musicians (AACM), Lake moved to New York in
the mid-'70s, working the fertile ground of the downtown loft
scene and quickly establishing himself as one of its most
adventurous and multi-faceted artists.
A co-founder of the internationally acclaimed World
Saxophone Quartet with Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett and David
Murray in 1977 (and recently celebrating its 26th
anniversary with an album of Jimi Hendrix pieces for Justin
Time Records), Oliver continued to work with the WSQ and
his own various groups - including the groundbreaking
roots/reggae ensemble Jump Up - and collaborating with
many notable choreographers, poets and a veritable Who's
Who of the progressive jazz scene of the late 20th century,
performing all over the U.S