Free Jazz Pioneer, Sam Rivers, Dies At 88
Legendary and highly-respected Jazz musician, Sam Rivers, died at the age of 88 of pneumonia on December 26 in Orlando, Fla.
Rivers was regarded to be one of the critical key forces who helped to catapult the free jazz movement along with other legends such as Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor, whom Rivers closely worked with early on in his career.
Rivers was a notable composer and arranger and master of both the tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica, and piano.
The free jazz movement was considered to be an experimental form of jazz which aimed to rupture any and all conventions of the style of music that had been created since the course of its conception. Most notably, the abandonment of fixed chord changes or fixed tempos was an element of free jazz. Also referred to as “avant-garde jazz,” this method heavily stressed collective improvisation.
Over the course of his career, Rivers worked alongside Miles Davis, T-Bone Walker, Dizzy Gillespie , and John Lee Hooker.
Rivers considered music to be what kept him alive and going and up until September, he held weekly open auditions for his Rivbea Orchestra in Orlando.
Rivers is survived by his three daughters Monique Williams, Cindy Johnson, and Traci Tozzi, his son, Dr. Samuel Rivers, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife, Bea, died in 2005.