The only pianist-composer to stand up to Thelonious Monk during the bebop era
was Herbie Nichols (1919), but in his case the composition prevailed over the
performance. Nichols pioneered cross-over fusion between jazz music (both
the traditional kind and the bop kind) and classical music (the traditional,
tonal kind). In fact, he also added doses of Caribbean folk music.
He only recorded four albums as a leader, between 1955 and 1957, notably
The Third World (may 1955), with Art Blakey on drums, containing
Third World, Dance Line, Cro-Magnon Nights,
Amoeba's Dance and 2300 Skidoo,
and two volumes of Herbie Nichols Trio (august 1955 and april 1956), with Max Roach on drums, containing The Gig, House Party Starting and
Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday's theme song).
Their unorthodox, whimsical pieces could sound like parodies of the ruling
canons or like deconstruction of the pop song.
Love, Gloom, Cash, Love (november 1957) was recorded by a trio with
bassist George Duvivier and drummer Dannie Richmond.
Nichols died in 1965.
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