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Sam Rivers 100 – A celebration of the Musical Legacy of Sam Rivers

October 13 @ 6:00 pm 8:30 pm

5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036 United States
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presented in partnership with

Mark Masters Ensemble

Billy Harper – tenor saxophone
Nicole McCabe – alto saxophone
Jerry Pinter – tenor/soprano saxophones
Tom Luer – baritone saxophone
Ryan DeWeese – trumpet
Les Lovitt – trumpet
Nathan Kay – trumpet
Les Benedict – trombone
Fred Simmons – trombone
Dave Woodley – trombone
Jeff Colella – piano
Chris Colangelo – bass
Kendall Kay – drums
Mark Masters – arranger

This concert is part of Jazz at LACMA, a long standing series celebrating LA’s finest musicians, happening every Friday from April to November and it is co-presented by The American Jazz Institute.

Sam Rivers was a legendary figure in the world of improvised music. His legacy continues to be a presence in the jazz community.

To celebrate what would have been Sam’s 100th birthday, composer and arranger Mark Masters has focused on the years that Sam was a Blue Note Records artist. For the first time, Sam’s small group compositions will be reimagined for thirteen musicians.

Sam Rivers

Whatever the size of the ensemble, Sam Rivers’ music was rooted in the blues. All you may need to know about him is that in 1964 he went directly from T-Bone Walker’s band to the Miles Davis Quintet, from playing “Stormy Monday” with the showboating but gifted Texas bluesman to playing “So What” with the Prince of Darkness, and never missed a beat. The son of traveling gospel musicians, Rivers was born in Oklahoma in 1923, grew up in Chicago and Little Rock, enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and studied with composer Alan Hovhaness at the Boston Conservatory of Music. That combination of blues, gospel, and cerebral art music would serve him well for the rest of his life.

“Sam always rocked,” says Marty Khan, Rivers’ manager in the ’70s. “He could be way out there and still be absolutely rocking. It was that blues groove and that blues language always kept him grounded, even when he got far out. He seldom got into that ether area, that spacy realm that a lot of his colleagues did. And if he did it for a minute, he’d go right back to the slamming.”


Mark Masters

Mark Masters (b. 1957) is an inventive and prolific composer and arranger from southern California.  He organized his first ensemble in 1982.  In 1990, Masters wrote the album PRIESTESS (Capri 74031) to feature Billy Harper and Jimmy Knepper.  A subsequent recording with Knepper, THE JIMMY KNEPPER SONGBOOK (Focus 1001, 1993) featured arrangements by Masters of Knepper’s compositions.

The most recent recording by Masters, OUR METIER (Capri 74150, 2018), features Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Gary Foster, Mark Turner, Tim Hagans,  Putter Smith, and Dave Woodley in a large ensemble setting.  Michael Ullman calls OUR METIER “…an eclectic and beautifully accomplished big band recording that is made up of, for once, Masters’ originals.” DOWNBEAT magazine awarded the recording four stars in its December 2018 issue


Billy Harper

In his early recordings and performances with leaders such as Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis and Gil Evans, during the 60s and 70s, Billy Harper already had a massive sound on the tenor saxophone, combining John Coltrane’s spiraling intensity with a bluesy brawn that pointed back to his Texas origins. 

Harper’s authority has only grown with age: a half-century on, he stands as one of the most commanding horn men on the planet, a pillar of stirring post-bop jazz whose robust back catalog seems long overdue for rediscovery.

For half a century he has been performing his original music with the Billy Harper Quintet all over the globe, and recording over a dozen albums as leader and composer, many of them considered “historic”. 
After a pandemic induced hiatus, Billy Harper and his Quintet are back in action, starting 2023 off with a series of #CapraBlackIsBack performances, marking what will be a year long celebration of his 80th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of his renowned debut album “Capra Black”.