Gigi Gryce

(1925 - 1983)

alto saxophone / composer / arranger

Go to Gigi Gryce's page at emusic for free MP3 downloads


Gigi Gryce was born George General Gryce on 28th Nov 1925 in Florida, but he was brought up in Hartford, Connecticut. Initially he had his mind set on becoming a doctor but after meeting musicians such as Clark Terry and Willie Smith in the Navy, he changed his mind and decided to pursue a career as a musician. In 1948 he began studying classical composition at the Boston Conservatory, then, having won a Fulbright scholarship, he went to Paris to study under Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger. During his classical training he actually composed three symphonies, a ballet (The Dance of the Green Witches), a symphonic tone-poem (Gashiya-The Overwhelming Event) and various piano works for two and four hands, and string quartets. However Gryce was also active as a Jazz musician on flute and alto saxophone, playing gigs with Howard McGhee and Thelonious Monk. He soon attracted the attention of Stan Getz who asked him to arrange for him - Getz subsequently recorded three Gryce originals: Yvette, Wildwood and Mosquito Knees. Gryce also was the arranger for recording dates for Howard McGhee (Shabozz) and Max Roach (Glow Worm). In the summer of 1953 Gryce joined Tadd Dameron's band, and in the autumn of that year was with the Lionel Hampton band when they made their legendary European tour. Through Hampton's band Gryce met many musicians with whom he was to collaborate later, including Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones and Benny Golson. On returning to New York Gryce struck up a collaboration with Art Farmer, which was to become a productive partnership. From 1955-1958 Gryce co-led the Jazz Lab Quintet, a group that also included trumpeter Donald Byrd. In 1957 further memorable recordings were made with a group led by Thelonious Monk ('Monk's Music'). Oscar Pettiford also made use of Gryce as player, composer and arranger for a couple of sessions Then suddenly, Gryce disappeared from the scene as a player to concentrate on his music publishing activities (he had founded the Melotone publishing company) and on his teaching. Such was his devotion to teaching that a school in The Bronx was named after him; PS53 Basheer Qusim School (he converted to Islam). He died of a heart attack on 17th March, 1983

Recommended Recordings
Gigi Gryce / Clifford Brown Sextet Vogue
Nica's Tempo Savoy
And the Jazz Lab Quintet Riverside/OJC
  Modern Jazz Perspective Columbia
  Jazz Lab Quintet Jazzland
  The Happnin's New Jazz/ OJC
  Sayin' Something New Jazz/ OJC
  Rat Race Blues Original Jazz
  When Farmer met Gryce OJC