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Clifford Thornton

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Clifford Thornton

For the drug policy reform advocate and Green Party politician, see Cliff Thornton.
Clifford Thornton
Genres Avant-garde jazz
Free jazz
Occupations Musician
Bandleader
Composer
Instruments Trumpet
Trombone

Clifford Thornton (September 6, 1939 - November 25, 1989) was an American free jazz trombonist, trumpeter and composer.

Biography

Clifford was born in Philadelphia in 1939, and grew up in the city, attending Temple University. His family appears to have had a musical bent (drummer J.C. Moses is a cousin) and Clifford began piano lessons at 7.[1] After a late 50's stint in the army band, Thornton moved to New York City.

He studied with trumpeter Donald Byrd in the mid-1950s and worked with various players such as tuba player Ray Draper. He played with numerous avant-garde jazz bands, appearing as a sideman on records by notable artists Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, and Sam Rivers. His first album, 1967's Freedom & Unity, was recorded the day after John Coltrane's funeral.[2] It included Coltrane associate Jimmy Garrison and also marked the first recorded appearance of Joe McPhee.[3]

Thornton was in Algiers for the 1969 Pan-African Cultural Festival of the OAU, which had an important impact on his political thought,[4] and integrated his musical and political aims. Most of the works recorded under his own name as leader were large-form compositions [5]

He taught at Wesleyan University in the early 1970s; he brought many younger jazz musicians to perform on campus, giving the academic ethnomusicology world more exposure to current American music. Thought to possess radical political leanings, Thornton was denied entry into France in the 1970's.[3] Thornton spent the last 15 years of his life in Europe; he died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1989.

Discography

As leader

As sideman

With Dave Burrell

With Archie Shepp

Jason Guthartz's discography, compiled through 2008, is the most complete on-line listing of Clifford on record.[6]

References

External links

  • Clifford Thornton at Allmusic
  • Thornton Facebook page

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