Sam Rivers, influential jazz musician and composer, has died

Pioneer of the 1970s loft scene and multi-instrumentalist has passed away following a bout of pneumonia at the age of 88.


Words by: Charlie Jones

Sam Rivers, a prominent member of the post-war jazz scene in New York and hugely talented performer, has passed away at the age of 88 in his home in Orlando, Florida. He was suffering from pneumonia.

While his primary instrument throughout his career was the tenor saxophone, Rivers displayed an exhaustive mastery of a wide range of instruments, including the flute, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and piano.

Arguably, Rivers’ greatest impact was felt in 1970s New York, when he established Studio Rivbea as a performance space for jazz artists in the loft he shared with his wife, Beatrice. As a non-commercial, avant-garde hub, it served as a catalyst for the free-thinking jazz movement between 1970 – 1979.

Following its closure, Rivers led and played with several groups, including the big band Rivbea Orchestra. He settled in Florida in the 1990s.

Stream his jazz classic, Beatrice, named for his wife, below.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

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