Give Now

Night Lights Classic Jazz

One More You Wrote Through Us: Horace Tapscott

In 1961 pianist Horace Tapscott turned his back on a high-profile jazz gig and began to help build a vibrant, multicultural underground Los Angeles jazz scene.

Play Episode (Real Audio)

The Dark TreeIn 1961 pianist Horace Tapscott turned down a chance to have a high-profile career with the Lionel Hampton band and spent the next several decades in Los Angeles, leading several community-jazz bands and doing his best to extend the mentoring and teaching tradition that he had experienced growing up during the glory days of L.A.’s Central Avenue era. The underground jazz scene that he helped to create and sustain–a vibrant, multi-arts mix of culture, politics, and African-American values–has now been documented in L.A. jazz historian Steven Isoardi’s new book, The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles. Isoardi joins us for this program in which we also hear some previously unissued music by Tapscott and UGMAA (Union of God’s Musician and Artists Ascension) and the Pan-Afrikan People’s Arkestra, along with solo and trio Tapscott piano recordings and a collaboration with Black Panther activist Elaine Brown.

Here are some excerpts from our interview with Steven Isoardi that didn’t make it into the show:

Relying on memories
Leaving Lionel Hampton
Impact of Watts riots
Tapscott & the FBI
Fear of the LAPD
West African culture & UGMA
Other arts
1980s a hard time for the Arkestra
Tapscott/UGMA archives
On music from the book’s CD
Horace as a person

A new movie, Leimert Park: the Story of a Village in South-Central L.A., covers the story of a cultural resurrection following the Los Angeles riots of 1992. There are interviews with and performances by Tapscott, Billy Higgins, and others. The film, which has drawn rave reviews from the Los Angeles media, is produced and directed by Jeannette Lindsay.

PlayPlay

Music Heard On This Episode

To the Great House (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — Dissent or Descent (Nimbus West, 1984)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
To the Great House (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — Dissent or Descent (Nimbus West, 1984)

Notes: Tapscott composition.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
The Dark Tree
Horace Tapscott — West Coast Hot (Novus, 1969)

Notes: Tapscott composition.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tell God All of My Troubles
Horace Tapscott/UGMAA — The Dark Tree: Jazz & Community Arts in L.A. (University of California Press, 1969)

Notes: William Marshall (Shakespearean actor and

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Seize the Time
Elaine Brown — Seize the Time (Water, 1969)

Notes: Song written and performed by Black Panther Party activist Elaine Brown, backed by Horace Tapscott and members of UGMAA.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Eternal Egypt Suite Pt. 4 (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott/UGMA — The Dark Tree: Jazz & Community Arts in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 1975)

Notes: From a CD included with the Steven Isoardi book THE DARK TREE: JAZZ & THE COMMUNITY ARTS IN LOS ANGELES.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
The Giant Is Awakened
Horace Tapscott — West Coast Hot (Novus, 1969)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Ballad for Samuel (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — Tapscott Sessions V. 10 (Nimbus West)
album cover
Village Dance (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott/Pan-Afrikan People's Arkestra — Live at I.U.C.C. (Nimbus West, 1979)
album cover
Dial 'B' for Barbra (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — Dial 'B' for Barbra (Nimbus West, 1983)
album cover
Ballad for Deadwood Dick (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — The Dark Tree: Jazz & the Community Arts in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 1995)

Notes: From a CD included with Steven Isoadi's book THE DARK TREE: JAZZ & THE COMMUNITY ARTS IN LOS ANGELES.

Buy from Amazon »
album cover
As a Child (excerpt)
Horace Tapscott — The Tapscott Sessions V. 8 (Nimbus Records)
album cover
David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

View all posts by this author »

  • JohnK

    great show and extras too.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Night Lights Classic Jazz:

Support For Indiana Public Media From

About Night Lights

Search Night Lights

where to hear night lights

This Week On Afterglow

Moon Country: Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer

Skylark and Johnny Mercer

"Moon Country" features classic songs written by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael, performed by Louis Armstrong, Helen Forrest, and others.

Read more »

Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Afterglow »