Gigi Gryce Biography
28 November 1925, Pensacola, Florida, USA, d. 17 March 1983, Pensacola, Florida, USA. Alto saxophonist Gryce studied composition at Boston Conservatory and in Paris (with classicist Arthur Honegger) but then turned to jazz with spells in various bands, including that led by Tadd Dameron. In 1953 he was a member of the remarkable band with which Lionel Hampton toured Europe and which featured many other fine young musicians, notably Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Quincy Jones and Alan Dawson. Although contractually barred from recording while on tour, most of the band were too eager to be bound by contracts and made several big band and small group records, some of which were released under Gryces name. On their return to the USA the culprits of this breach of contract were fired by Hampton. In the mid- to late 50s Gryce worked with Lee Morgan, Oscar Pettiford, Donald Byrd (co-leading the Jazz Lab quintet with him) and also led his own small group. During this period he converted to Islam and adopted the new name of Basheer Qusim.
Gryces playing was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, but his writing showed great flair and inventiveness and was eagerly used by many leading post-bop artists. In the 60s Gryce began to concentrate on teaching and also extended his composing into the classical field: he is credited with three symphonies.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.