Inspired by Harry Carney from Duke Ellington’s band, who had played the baritone as a soloist, Bluiett played with Sam Rivers’ ensemble and famously joined the Charles Mingus Quintet in New York from 1969, touring Europe and appearing on ‘Mingus At Carnegie Hall’. He then started out as a bandleader in 1975, building from work he had started in St. Louis as a co-founder of the influential Black Artists’ Group, a collective dedicated to new work in theatre, visual arts, dance, spoken word, film and music. He went on to form the World Saxophone Quartet alongside former B.A.G. members Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake and multi-instrumentalist David Murray.
Championing the baritone throughout his life, he became a go-to player for many of the biggest artists in jazz and R&B, performing with Babatunde Olatunji, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
One of the few live sessions released on Black Fire, ‘Bearer Of The Holy Flame’ was originally released on Black Fire on CD in 1994, eleven years after being recorded, and is best known for a storming version of Wayne Shorter’s ‘Footprints’.
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