John (Martin) Tchicai (DK) - b. April 28, 1936 - performed with
his combo feat. Misha Mengelberg: John Tchicai (ts/b-cl, sequencer), Misha
Mengelberg (p), Peter Danstrup (b/el-b), Gilbert Matthews (d, perc) -
and Margriet Naber (key) at The JAZZPAR Event 1992.
John Tchicai was raised in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, by
a Danish mother and a Congolese father.
Tchicai did jazz gigs on alto with Danish baritone saxophonist
Max Brüel a.o., while studying at The Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen.
In 1962 at a festival in Helsinki, Tchicai had his first momentous meeting
with Archie Shepp. The following year and at Shepp's invitation Tchicai
moved to New York where he stayed till 1966, playing and recording with
some of the most important representatives of the black American avant-garde
of the day, e.g. Shepp, Don Cherry, John Coltrane, and Roswell Rudd. He
also recorded with Albert Ayler as well as with The Jazz Composers Guild.
Back in The Old World Tchicai has been an influential
figure within his idiom. In Denmark he co-led the 17-23-piece Cadentia
Nova Danica for a while. From 1982 he often worked with Pierre Dørge's
New Jungle Orchestra (JAZZPAR Orchestra 1991). Tchicai has also fronted
a number of own combos. Touring the Continents, Tchicai cooperated with
numerous leading musicians - among them Misha Mengelberg.
Lee Konitz was an important mentor to the young John
Tchicai, the Dane's staccato phrasing and dry sound verifies the connection.
Later Tchicai was also inspired by Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp. Around
1983 changing from alto to tenor saxophone, his style drew nearer to the
jazz mainstream, tone and phraseology sometimes reminding you of Sonny
Tchicai's music is marked by intensity and rhythmic
significance. In his best moments he may establish an evocative power
by playing almost unnoticeable variations of a doggedly repeated motif.
He is related to Thelonious Monk in his ability to render superfluous
any unnecessary details and go right to the core.
Tchicai is also a productive composer. He has been a
pioneer in several respects, for instance introducing world music on his
home ground and often working across borders between genres and art forms.