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On The Ginza

John Gilmore

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September 28, 1931 - August 19, 1995


John Gilmore performs with Art Blakey's "Jazz Messengers" on British TV in 1965.


John Gilmore, tenor sax
Lee Morgan, trumpet
John Hicks, piano
Victor Sproles, bass
Art Blakey, drums

Born in Summit, Mississippi on September 28, 1931, John Gilmore grew up in Chicago where he began playing clarinet in his teens, before switching to tenor saxophonist while serving in the United States Air Force during the late '40s.

After his discharge he worked for a short period in the band of Earl "Fatha" Hines.

In 1953 he met Sun Ra and would become a devoted member of Ra's Arkestra for the next forty years.

Gilmore co-led a 1957 Blue Note session with Clifford Jordan, featuring Horace Silver, Curly Russell, and Art Blakey producing the classic hard bop LP "Blowing In from Chicago".

During the mid-1960s he recorded with McCoy Tyner, Paul Bley, and Andrew Hill, and in addition toured Europe with "Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers".

After the death of his career-long collaborator Sun Ra in 1993, John Gilmore assumed leadership of Ra's Arkestra and remained until his own passing from emphysema on August 19, 1995.

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