A Short Guide to Julius Hemphill

Source: The Wire.

The work of saxophonist (mainly alto), flautist, vocalist, composer, conductor, arranger, organiser, bandleader, teacher and label founder Julius Hemphill (1938-1995) spans solo saxophone music, brilliantly poised small ‘jazz’ groups (often setting his alto with cello, drums and trumpet); compositions for chamber ensembles and big band; saxophone quartets, sextets and a saxophone opera; as well as collaborations with poets, dancers and fuller theatre works. At the heart of his unique body of work is a point of articulation, the join, between reflection and vigour, where the human voice – in words and speech, amplified and transformed by saxophones or flutes – feels ever-present.