Arthur Blythe Profiled

Source: burning ambulance.

Blythe was born in Los Angeles in July 1940, and grew up in San Diego. He made his recorded debut on Horace Tapscott‘s 1969 album The Giant is Awakened, and worked extensively with Tapscott’s Underground Musicians and Artists Association (UGMAA) before moving to New York in the mid-’70s. He gigged around, working with Lester Bowie, Julius Hemphill, Woody Shaw and others before recording a concert that was split into two albums for the India Navigation label.

The first volume, The Grip, featured six tracks ranging from the three-minute solo sax piece “My Son Ra” to the nearly 13-minute “As of Yet.” Blythe’s band on this date was truly unique, including Ahmed Abdullah on trumpet, Bob Stewart on tuba, Abdul Wadud on cello, Steve Reid on drums and Muhammad Abdullah on percussion. The music had a rich, full sound which the dynamic range of the ensemble, particularly the horns, emphasized in a thrilling manner.