Sam Rivers Day

September 25, 1923 – December 26, 2011


Tanga/Con Alma

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Sam Rivers was born on September 25, 1923 in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Exposed to music from a young age, Rivers’ father performed with the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a famous all-black a cappella group.

He backed singer Jimmy Witherspoon at the time before moving to Massachusetts in 1947 where he studied at the Boston Conservatory.

In 1959 Rivers began performing with young drummer Tony Williams.

Rivers played with Miles Davis in 1964, but his style proved too avant-garde for Davis’ vision. Rivers explored his own style on multiple Blue Note recordings from this era.

In the 1970s Sam was an active participant in the New York City’s loft jazz scene opening “Studio Rivbea” among the most famous establishments of its kind with his wife Bea.

Also a talented composer after relocating to Florida with his wife in the early ’90s, Rivers performed his original works with his “RivBea Orchestra”.

He toured France and recorded a number of side projects between 1996 and 1998 including collaborating with pianist Tony Hymas, and with the aid of Steve Coleman the “RivBea All-Star Orchestra” released two Grammy Nominated LPs.

On December 26, 2011 Sam Rivers passed away from pneumonia in Orlando, Florida.

Sam Rivers performs two numbers with Dizzy Gillespie on German TV in 1987.

Tanga was written by Mario Bauza. (He’s the cat who brought Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo together).

“Tanga” Personnel:

Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet
Sam Rivers, tenor-sax
Hank Jones, piano
Ed Cherry, guitar
John Lee, bass
Ignacio Berroa, drums

“Con Alma”: 
(Replace with)

Eddie Gomez, bass
Ed Thigpen, drums

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