Horace Parlan Day

January 19, 1931 – February 23, 2017

A tribute to the chordal bop pianist

Pianist Horace Parlan was born on January 19, 1931 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Parlan was stricken with polio when he was five, resulting in his right hand being partly crippled.

Despite that handicap, he became a pianist, utilizing the usable fingers on his right hand to join his left in playing rhythmic chords.

Parlan spent the 1952-57 period mostly working in Washington D.C. including with Sonny Stitt, developing his unusual but effective style.

In 1957 he joined Charles Mingus, making his first recordings with the bassist including on the 1958 classic album Blues And Roots and Mingus Ah Um.

After leaving Mingus in 1959, Parlan worked and recorded with Lou Donaldson, made an album with Tommy Turrentine, and in 1960 cut his first of a series of records as a leader for Blue Note

In the 1960s Parlan also recorded with Stanley Turrentine, Booker Ervin, Dave Bailey, Dexter Gordon (Doin’ Alright), Grant Green, Tubby Hayes, Slide Hampton, Babs Gonzales, Johnny Griffin/Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

In 1973 Parlan permanently moved to Copenhagen where he continued playing for the next couple of decades, leading albums, working with visiting Americans (including Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Al Cohn/Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Claude Williams, Howard McGhee, Red Mitchell, Frank Foster, Johnny Coles, Red Holloway, and Benny Carter), top Europeans, and on a series of excellent duet projects with Archie Shepp.

Due to ill health, Horace Parlan’s career slowed down after 2000; there were only two later recordings.

This recording features the pianist at his home in December 2003 in a trio with bassist Jesper Lundgaard and drummer Ed Thigpen, playing his composition “Love And Peace.”

-Scott Yanow


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