Remembering Dave Samuels

October 9, 1948 – April 22, 2019

The great vibraphonist is remembered

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Vibraphonist Dave Samuels passed away on April 22, 2019 at the age of 70.

He was born October 9, 1948 in Waukegan, Illinois.

When he was six, Samuels started playing piano and drums, becoming a professional at the age of 15.

Samuels switched his focus to vibes and marimba while attending Boston University, and at the Berklee College Of Music he studied with Gary Burton.

After moving to New York, Samuels became busy, working and recording with Gerry Mulligan, Carla Bley, Gerry Niewood, Frank Zappa and in a duo with fellow vibraphonist and marimba player David Friedman called Double Image.

Samuels, who was a session musician for years, first recorded with Spyro Gyra in 1979 and was on most of their recordings until he became a longtime member in 1986 until 2005; he also recorded with a variety of top artists in the 1980s including Bobby McFerrin, Paul McCandless, Art Lande and Anthony Davis.

In 1993, Dave Samuels formed the Caribbean Jazz Project which in its original lineup teamed him with steel drum master Andy Narell and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera.

In his influential career, Samuels led ten solo albums of his own.

Here is Dave Samuels in 2009 performing Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” in a trio with bassist Oscar Stagnaro and drummer Mark Walker.

-Scott Yanow


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