John Martin Tchicai April 28, 1936 - October 7, 2012
John Martin Tchicai (April 28, 1936 - October 7, 2012) was a Danish free jazz saxophonist and composer.
After moving to New York City in 1963, Tchicai joined Archie Shepp's New York Contemporary Five and the New York Art Quartet. He played on John Coltrane's Ascension, and Albert Ayler's New York Eye and Ear Control, both influential free jazz recordings.
Tchicai was born in Copenhagen to a Danish mother and a Congolese father. The family moved to Aarhus where he studied violin in his youth, and in his mid-teens began playing clarinet and alto saxophone, focusing on the latter. By the late 1950s he was travelling around northern Europe, playing with many musicians.
He moved to NYC in 1963. While playing with Archie Shepp and Don Cherry in the New York Contemporary Five and at the same time forming the New York Art Quartet with Roswell Rudd and Milford Graves, his compositions and saxophone laid the foundation for the conception of a genre to be labeled “free jazz.” His solos on the two editions of John Coltrane’s seminal “Ascension” stand as the capstone of his work in this context.
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