John Tchicai / April 28, 1936 - Oct 8, 2012

The Afro-Danish reedsman John Tchicai was one of the unique talents on the international out-jazz scene after the "October Revolution" of 1964. Born in Copenhagen (and of Congolese descent), he played violin as a child and switched to reeds as a teenager. He was pro by the late '50s traveling around Europe before setting off for NYC in '62. He hooked up with groups of major statement, such as New York Contemporary Five (with Don Cherry and Archie Shepp) and the New York Art Quartet. He participated in the behemoth free jazz recordings New York Eye & Ear Control (with Albert Ayler) and John Coltrane's controversial Ascension.

He went back to Europe in '66 and started up his Cadentia Nova Danica orchestra and worked with the likes of Musica Elettronica Viva, ICP Orchestra, Iréne Schweizer, Pierre Dorge, John Lennon & Yoko Ono. He also wrote for chamber ensembles, worked with rock and Afro musicians and toured all over the globe including Africa and India, and recorded with Garrison Fewell, Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith, Cecil Taylor and others.

He is known mostly as an alto saxophonist but started to play a lot more tenor starting in the early '80s. He also played violin, clarinet and keyboards. Check out his version of Fela Kuti's "Colo-Mentality" on his Put Up The Fight album and his amazing performance on Johnny Dyani's Witchdoctor's Son album.

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