John Gilmore Day

September 28, 1931 – August 20, 1995


On The Ginza

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Saxophonist John Gilmore was born on September 28, 1931 in Summit, Mississippi.

Gilmore took up the tenor sax while serving in the Air Force from 1948 to 1952.

Gilmore’s forceful and inventive playing helped shape the band’s sound and influenced other sax players like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

In 1953 he met Sun Ra and would become a devoted member of Ra’s Arkestra for the next forty years.

Gilmore co-led a 1957 Blue Note session with Clifford Jordan, featuring Horace Silver, Curly Russell, and Art Blakey producing the classic hard bop LP “Blowing In from Chicago”.

During the mid-1960s he recorded with McCoy Tyner, Paul Bley, and Andrew Hill, and in addition toured Europe with “Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers”.

After the death of his career-long collaborator Sun Ra in 1993, John Gilmore assumed leadership of Ra’s Arkestra and remained until his own passing from emphysema on August 19, 1995.

John Gilmore performs with Art Blakey’s “Jazz Messengers” on British TV in 1965.


John Gilmore, tenor sax
Lee Morgan, trumpet
John Hicks, piano
Victor Sproles, bass
Art Blakey, drums


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