Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Gunther Schuller!

November 22

It’s hard to believe that composer/author/conductor Gunther Schuller is celebrating his 88th birthday today. He remains as vital, committed and overworked now as he was 60 years ago.

One of jazz’s staunchest advocates, his compositions, books and music making have been an important facet of American music since the late 1940’s. Originally known as a brilliant classical French horn player (who also played on Miles Davis’ classic Nonet sessions), Schuller defined himself in the 1950’s through his creation of what he called Third Stream Music, that brought together what he viewed as the best aspects of jazz and classical music.

Here is Joe Lovano talking about Mr. Schuller:

Schuller is a Pulitzer award winning composer, and his one of his most memorable jazz-related works is this set of variations on his close friend John Lewis’ composition Django, played by
Eric Dolphy (fl), Robert DiDomenica (fl), Jim Hall (g),
Eddie Costa (vib), Bill Evans (p), Scott Lafaro (b), George Duvivier (b)
Sticks Evans (ds), and The Contemporary String Quartet in 1960:

One of Schuller’s major projects in the last 20 years has been the rescue of Charles Mingus’ massive Epitath from oblivion – it was never played in its entirety during the bassist’s lifetime.

Schuller conducts his Epitah Orchestra in a vintage Mingus piece, and this vital piece of jazz and Americana is perfect way to send our best wishes to Gunther Schuller on his birthday. Carry on, Gunther!