Horace Tapscott

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Horace Elva Tapscott (April 6, 1934 – February 27, 1999) was an American jazz pianist and composer.[1] He formed the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (also known as P.A.P.A., or The Ark) in 1961 and led the ensemble through the 1990s.[2]


He was born in Houston, Texas, and moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of nine. By this time he had begun to study piano and trombone. He played with Frank Morgan, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins as a teenager. After service in the Air Force in Wyoming, he returned to Los Angeles and played trombone with various bands, notably Lionel Hampton (1959–61). Soon after, though, he quit playing trombone and focused on piano.[3]

In 1961 Tapscott formed the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, with the aim of preserving, developing and performing African-American music. As his vision grew, this became just one part of a larger organization in 1963, the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), which later changed name to the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA).[3] Arthur Blythe, Stanley Crouch, Butch Morris, Wilber Morris, David Murray, Jimmy Woods, and Guido Sinclair all performed in Tapscott's Arkestra at one time or another.[2] Tapscott and his work are the subjects of the UCLA Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection.[4]

Enthusiasts of his music formed two labels in the 1970s and 1980s, Interplay and Nimbus, for which he recorded.[3]


As a leader[edit]

  • The Giant is Awakened (Flying Dutchman, 1969) - as Horace Tapscott Quintet
  • Songs of the Unsung (Interplay, 1978)
  • In New York (Interplay, 1979)
  • Lighthouse 79, Vol. I, 1979
  • Lighthouse 79, Vol. II, 1979
  • Autumn Colors, 1980
  • At the Crossroads (with Everett Brown, Jr.), 1980
  • Dial 'B' for Barbra (Nimbus, 1981) - as Horace Tapscott Sextet
  • Live At Lobero, Vol. I (with Roberto Miranda and Sonship), 1981
  • Live At Lobero, Vol. II (with Roberto Miranda and Sonship), 1981
  • Dissent or Descent (Nimbus, 1984 [1998])
  • The Dark Tree (Hat ART, 1991) - originally released as two separate volumes and re-released as a double CD
  • Arkestra Live in Chicago, 1993
  • Aiee! The Phantom (Arabesque, 1996)
  • Among Friends, 1995
  • Thoughts of Dar es Salaam (Arabesque, 1997)

With the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra[edit]

  • The Call, 1978
  • Horace Tapscott with The Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra - Live At I.U.C.C., 1979
  • Flight 17, 1997

As sideman[edit]

With Lou Blackburn

As composer and arranger[edit]

With Sonny Criss


  1. ^ Horace Tapscott at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b "Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection". Jazz Archival Collections. University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  3. ^ a b c Steven L. Isoardi. "Horace Tapscott". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ "Finding Aid for the Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection 1960-2002". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 


  • Dailey, Raleigh. "The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles" (review). Notes Volume 63, Number 3, March 2007, pp. 632–634.
  • Isoardi, Steven L. The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles. April 2006. 394p. illus. index. University of California, $34.95 (0-520-24591-1).
  • Isoardi, Steven L. Songs of the Unsung: The Musical and Social Journey of Horace Tapscott. Duke University Press, 2001.

External links[edit]