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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Gigi Gryce, Part 2: Rat Race Blues

What happened to saxophonist, composer, and music-publishing pioneer Gigi Gryce? Gryce co-biographer Michael Fitzgerald joins us again this week for the answer.

Gryce left behind a handful of masterful late-period recordings and a lack of clues as to where he had gone after leaving the jazz scene completely in the early 1960s.

In the late 1950s alto saxophonist and composer/arranger Gigi Gryce began his second music publishing company, as well as a fruitful new alliance with trumpeter Donald Byrd that resulted in half a dozen recordings made under the name of the Jazz Lab.

Personal and professional shadows were starting to lengthen, however, and by the early 1960s Gryce had vanished from the jazz world altogether. He spent the last 20 years of his life teaching in the New York City public school system, and his second wife didn’t even know that he had once been a jazz musician.

In this program we’ll hear more remarks from Michael Fitzgerald, co-author of the Gryce biography Rat Race Blues, as well as music from Gryce’s work with the Teddy Charles Tentet, Oscar Pettiford’s big band, the Jazz Lab, and Gryce’s last recordings as a leader, including the rarely-heard Reminiscin’.

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