Thursday, January 07, 2010


Jazz pianist Herbie Nichols, was born on January 3rd, 1919 in San Juan Hill, Manhattan, to parents from St.Kitts and Trinidad, and grew up in Harlem.

During much of Nichols life he was forced to take work as a Dixieland musician instead of playing the more adventurous kind of jazz he preferred, but he is best known today for his own highly original compositions, program music which combines bop, Dixieland, and West Indian music with harmonies derived from Erik Satie and Béla Bartók.

His first known work was with the Royal Barons in 1937, but he did not find performing at Minto's Playhouse a few years later a very happy experience. The competitive atmosphere of that scene did not suit his personality. However, he did become friends with fellow pianist Thelonious Monk, even if his own critical neglect would be more enduring.

Nichols was drafted into the Infantry in 1941. After the war he worked in various setting, beginning to achieve some recognition when Mary Lou Williams recorded some of his songs in 1952.

From about 1947 he persisted in trying to persuade Alfred Lion at Blue Note Records to sign him up. He finally recorded for Blue Note in 1955 and 1956, which led to the issue of three albums. Other tracks from these sessions were not issued until the 1980s. His tune "Serenade" had lyrics added, and as "Lady Sings the Blues" became firmly identified with Billie Holiday. In 1957 he recorded his last album for Bethlehem Records. All of his recordings as leader have been released on CD.

Nichols died from leukemia at the age of 44.

Herbie plays "Lady Sings the Blues"

Reference - Wikipédia

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