Born: October 15, 1939 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
I was born in Evansville, IN in 1939, and at the age of 4, I contracted polio. I've been in a wheelchair ever since. The chair doesn't define me, but it has affected my life (and certainly my access to those basement jazz clubs). I got into jazz while living in a hospital school in Chicago, where one of the other kids turned me on to Charlie Parker at the age of 10. THAT affected my life far more than the polio did! Upon graduating from high school, I moved to L.A. and became a part of the fringe jazz scene there (in the early-to-mid '60s). By this time, I could play a bunch of Bird's music in 12 keys, but Ornette Coleman and 'Trane had gone off into a more modal free space and that's what all my friends wanted to play. Went to New York in 1966, and lived on the lower east side on the 6th floor of a building with no elevator(!), so I didn't get out much, but recorded a couple of albums with ESP, one with Sonny Simmons,(Music of the Spheres) and one with the drummer James Zitro (Listen). I hung out in my 6th floor apartment with saxophonist Jim Pepper, where we would play multiphonics at each other for hours (driving the neighbors crazy, no doubt). Returned to California after a couple of years, this time to Berkeley, where I hooked up with the drummer Smiley Winters and recorded a couple of albums with him on Arhoolie. I also continued playing with Zitro, who returned to California also (by way of Spain), and we attempted to survive the dry years of jazz by forming a fusion group, The Zytron Aquarian Ensemble. I tried New York again in the mid-'70s, but was determined not to live in a walk-up, therefore, I was stuck outside the city...Meanwhile, a couple of my acquaintances from Berkeley had moved to Olympia, Washington, formed a band and seeing my stuck situation in NY, held benefits to bring me to Olympia, where I've been since 1980.