Today we honor another underrated reedsman of the '60s/70s creative jazz scene, Makanda Ken McIntyre. While his main axe was the alto sax, he recorded on many different wind instruments: flute, oboe, bass clarinet, tenor sax, soprano sax, bassoon. In addition he was a capable pianist and drummer.
He wrote or arranged hundreds of tunes, incorporating bebop, blues, calypso, avant-garde into his style. He composed for jazz combos, chamber groups, orchestra, woodwind quartets, film & television scores and made several classic, if under-known, albums as a leader. He had a long and distinguished career as an educator, both in the NYC schools and on the university level. He was also a writer and activist.
A Jamaican-American who grew up in Boston's bad old South End, he burst onto the scene in 1960 in partnership with Eric Dolphy and their progressive Looking Ahead album. He cut records for Prestige, United Artists, Inner City and SteepleChase (he was well known in Scandinavia). In the '60s he played with Bill Dixon and on Cecil Taylor's bangin' 1966 date Unit Structures.
He also played or recorded with the collective Jazz Composers Orchestra, Nat Adderly, Craig Harris, Carla Bley, Joanne Brackeen, David Murray and Charlie Haden's protest band Liberation Music Orchestra. He was also, notably, a member of Beaver Harris' experimental improvising world-music fusion ensemble 360 Degree Experience.
He made an interesting solo album in '96 called In The Wind: The Woodwind Quartets on which he overdubbed layers of reed instruments. He spent some time in Bolivia and the Middle East, as well as Zimbabwe, where he picked up the name "Makanda", which means "many heads" in Shona. Explore his music.