Tanga / Con Alma

Dizzy Gillespie, Sam Rivers, and Hank Jones


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Sam Rivers, a versatile multi-instrumentalist and composer, was born on September 25, 1923, in El Reno, Oklahoma. His early exposure to music came through his father, who performed with the renowned all-black a cappella group, the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Before his move to Massachusetts in 1947, his father also backed the singer Jimmy Witherspoon.

In 1959, Sam Rivers began his collaboration with the young drummer Tony Williams. Although he played with Miles Davis in 1964, Rivers’ avant-garde style did not align with Davis’ musical vision. During this era, Rivers embarked on his own artistic journey, recording numerous albums for Blue Note that showcased his unique style.

During the 1970s, Sam Rivers played an active role in New York City’s loft jazz scene. He and his wife, Bea, opened “Studio Rivbea,” one of the most prominent venues of its kind at the time.

Rivers was not only a gifted musician but also a talented composer. After relocating to Florida with his wife in the early ’90s, he performed his original compositions with the “RivBea Orchestra.”

During the late ’90s, he toured France and engaged in various side projects. This period included collaborations with pianist Tony Hymas and, with the assistance of Steve Coleman, the “RivBea All-Star Orchestra,” which released two Grammy-nominated LPs.

On December 26, 2011, Sam Rivers sadly passed away in Orlando, Florida, due to pneumonia.

In this video from 1987 on German TV, Sam Rivers performs two pieces with Dizzy Gillespie. One of the compositions, “Tanga,” was written by Mario Bauza, known for bringing together Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo.

“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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