Sam Rivers, honored in 2010 by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, has died of Pneumonia at the age of 88.
Sam Rivers was a talented Jazz musician who developed an interest in music at an early age, thanks in part to his family’s deep involvement in music. Sam’s father was a gospel musician, was a former member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and had sung with the Silverstone Quartet. And as luck would have it, his mother, grandmother, and two sisters were also musicians. By his 30’s, Sam Rivers was capable of playing a wide variety of jazz instruments, including: soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute, harmonica, and piano.
Sam Rivers held weekly open rehearsals with his big band the Rivbea Orchestra the Orlando musician’s hall, and was a fixture of the Orlando music community. Over his lifetime Rivers had the pleasure of playing with quite a variety of equally talented musicians from Coleman Hawkings to Dizzy Gillespie and Cecil Taylor to Miles Davis.
Matt Gorney who was Rivers business manager for a little over ten years said the artist had developed a devoted and colorful group of fans during his time in Orlando. “People were dancing and moving to really challenging music,” Gorney said. “It would be like dancing to Stravinsky if you weren’t a ballet dancer. It was accepted by a lot of people that weren’t “jazz fans”. It was kind of uniquely Orlando thing. Sam would play in another city and the jazz cognoscenti would show up, but in Orlando it was the weirdest mixture of crowds.”
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