Ira Sullivan Day

May 1, 1931 – September 21, 2020

Wee Pot

Trumpeter, flugelhornist, flautist, saxophonist and composer Ira Sullivan was born May 1, 1931 born in Washington, D.C.

One of the best wind players who ever lived, he’s equally at home with brass and reeds and even gave Charlie Parker a run for his money on alto.

Sullivan played with Art Blakey in 1956, but left the touring life in the early 60s choosing like Chicago’s Von Freeman to stay home.

Sullivan was taught trumpet by his father, saxophone by his mother and played both in 50s Chicago with such seminal figures as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Wardell Gray and Roy Eldridge, garnering a reputation as a fearsome bebop soloist.

After playing briefly with Art Blakey (1956), and mastering alto and baritone saxophone, Sullivan moved south to Florida and out of the spotlight in the early 60s. His reluctance to travel limited his opportunities to play with musicians of the first rank, but Sullivan continued to play in the Miami area, often in schools and churches.

Contact with local younger players, notably Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny led to teaching and to a broadening of his own musical roots to include the lessons of John Coltrane’s music and elements of jazz rock.

Recorded in 1985


Red Rodney – trumpet
Ira Sullivan – trumpet (in blazer)
Joey Baron – drums
Garry Dial – piano
Jay Anderson – bass