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Tchicai, John

Biography

John Martin Tchicai (April 28, 1936 – October 8, 2012) was a Danish free jazz saxophonist and composer. After moving to New York City in 1963, Tchicai joined Archie Shepp's New York Contemporary Five and the New York Art Quartet. He played on John Coltrane's Ascension, and Albert Ayler's New York Eye and Ear Control, both influential free jazz recordings. Tchicai was born in Copenhagen to a Danish mother and a Congolese father. The family moved to Aarhus, where he studied violin in his youth, and in his mid-teens began playing clarinet and alto saxophone, focusing on the latter. By the late 1950s he was travelling around northern Europe, playing with many musicians. Following his work in New York, Tchicai returned to Denmark in 1966, and shortly thereafter focused most of his time on music education. He formed the small orchestra Cadentia Nova Danica with Danish and other European musicians; this group collaborated with Musica Elettronica Viva and performed in multi-media events. On August 30, 1975 his appearance at the Willisau Jazz Festival was recorded and released later that year as Willi The Pig. On this record, he plays with Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer. Tchicai returned to a regular gigging and recording schedule in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s he switched to the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. In 1990 he was awarded a lifetime grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture. Tchicai and his wife relocated to Davis, California, in 1991, where he led several ensembles. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1997. He was a member of Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith's "Yo Miles" band, a loose aggregation of musicians exploring Miles Davis' electric period. Since 2001 he had been living near Perpignan in southern France. On June 11, 2012, he suffered a brain hemorrhage in an airport in Barcelona, Spain. He was recovering and had canceled all appearances when he died in a Perpignan hospital on 8 October 2012.




Recordings

Shepp, Archie / Tchicai, John: Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five

A number of Storyville Records' iconic jazz and blues albums are now  available in a new series of remastered high quality vinyl releases. Featuring some of the best artists from the vast Storyville catalogue, the “Storyville Vinyl Remasters” series presents great music on deluxe vinyl. 

Each release is limited edition, pressed onto 180 gram virgin vinyl with the original covers and sleeve notes preserved. Updated notes have been added to the inner sleeves and a free download of the album is included. The audio has been remastered specifically for vinyl to secure the best sound that these great releases deserve.

This historic live album was recorded at the Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen on November 15, 1963 and featured saxophonists Archie Shepp and John Tchicai, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Don Moore and drummer JC Moses. The distinctive style of contemporary jazz the quintet played was already familiar in New York but welcomed as refreshing and innovative in Europe and Scandinavia. This performance was recorded on the final night before the group spli...