Blue Note Records – The Biography (6)

“What Did I Just Listen To ? “

Pianist Herbie Nichols (1919 – 1963) is THE example of a musician who was underrated during his lifetime an got the credits he deserved as a musician and composer only decades later. A typical late developer

Nichols played as a pianist in R&B bands, swing and Dixieland groups until in 1955 he finally got what he wanted, a recording session with Blue Note’s Alfred Lion. He had tried that for years but apparently he was not of much interest to Lion in the beginning.

Blue Note recorded Nichols with his trio, first with Art Blakey and Al McKibbon (bass) followed by sessions with Max Roach and Teddy Kotick. One of his talents was to write very unusual yet inspiring compositions which only became famous in the late 1980 – ties when most of his recordings were re-issued. He was also the composer of the Billy Holiday song “Lady Sings The Blues”.

Herbie Nichols

In 1956 he recorded the album “The Herbie Nichols Trio” with Roach and Kotick and recorded one of his most notorious compositions “The Gig”‘. It is sixty-seven-bar construction with an eight bar drum coda (Max Roach) and once the piece ends one feels bewildered: what were we just listening to here ?

Nichols’ music has been through a great revival and can still be heard today by a group called The Herbie Nichols Project. More on this great and extraordinary musician is on JazzWax.

Source: Cook, Richard – Blue Note Records.

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