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The death of the brilliant tenor and soprano saxophonist Sam Rivers on Boxing Day 2011 was a huge loss to jazz performance and education, and to a musician who exerted influence and inspiration on generations of musicial innovators.
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1923, Rivers grew out of music. His father was a gospel singer in the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and by 1974 Rivers the younger was studying music at the Boston Conservatory soon after moving onto the bands of Quincy Jones and Tadd Dameron.
By 1964 he had been recruited by Miles Davis for his quintet, and on the one album that he recorded with them, Miles in Tokyo, his free impulses showed how far ahead - even of Davis - he was during that era.
His Blue Note albums like Fuschia Swing Song, Contours and A New Conception express his audacity and sense of timbral surprise.
Rivers continued his developmental impact in the Studio Rivbea jazz loft that he ran with his wife Bea in New York City during the '70s.
It became a power centre of free jazz, bringing together some of the music's true avant-garde pioneers, with younger talents intent on further exploration.
Always a teacher, he loved playing with unknown musicians in their own hives of changes.
I remember hearing him in a pub in Toronto in 2005, inspiring a group of local improvisers and causing them to travel to sonic places they may not have dreamed of, and this all achieved with a quietness and modesty that belied his empowering horn that stirred and rocked the venue's century-old rafters and transient drinkers.
This spirit of musical mentorship is powerfully expressed through the front sleeve photograph of one of Rivers's latter-day albums recorded in a New York studio in 2004, Violet Violets.
It is a trio record, cut with two young jazz men - Danish drummer Kresten Osgood and a fellow US bassist Ben Street.
In the photograph the octogenarian Rivers sits between his two apprentice confreres, their faces fixed in deep concentration as the veteran jazz griot speaks.
The image says much about the passage of jazz through diverse generations, peoples and continents along the years of the master's long life.
Rivers's virtuosity streams through tenor and soprano saxes and flutes during this session, and he blows the latter with a tremendous verve and youth from the outset in Nature Calls (Part One), with an energised Osgood and booming Street beside him.
His tenor is warm and mellow as he remembers the complex piano artistry of Herbie Nichols in his cogent and moving homage, Horatio.
Two tunes by hornmen follow. Ornette Coleman's springng Invisible gives Osgood too a precocious outing, while I Forgot to Remember, a ballad by tenorist Lucky Thompson, has Rivers wailing with a winsome beauty and Street's plunging bass heartbeat plucking an almost subterranean depth.
No Time Toulouse begins with some sinuous unaccompanied Rivers on tenor, and his sound grows with a lyrical eloquence as his choruses take more and more creative relish.
On the standard What a Difference a Day Made he becomes balladeer, singing through his horn with melodic flair - very different from the following lightning soprano improvisation Lace, where every note penetrates the edges and finds the centre of sonic freedom.
Of the two concluding tracks, Chianti Blues shows the saxophone seer with a time-soaked blues theme with plenty of space for Osgood's thrashing drums, while Nature Calls Part Two finds Rivers deep in the tradition, with its Southern hymnal narrative pounding through the New York rafters.
A companion session, same days, same place, gives us the album Purple Violets, with the trio augmented to a quartet on some tracks with vibesman Bryan Carrott, who is very soon in the groove with a swinging Rivers on the opener Solace.
There is an adventurous version of The Mooche, written by that other prime adventurer Duke Ellington.
Rivers is hot and questing all through Abalonee, and In Search of Black Benny is a chase by the 80-year-old all over his saxophone, with the two young pretenders on bass and drums running to catch him up.
There's a poem by Osgood written across both albums' sleeves which ends: "... you can hold each violet in your hand and put it close to your ear. If you feel the glow you are almost there."
Do the same with these records and they'll tell you of a great jazz inventor who made beautiful sounds which he always passed on to young musical comrades and a world of listeners.