Al Schackman

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Al Schackman
Birth nameAlvin Schackman
Born (1933-10-05) October 5, 1933 (age 85)
New York, United States
Occupation(s)Guitarist, musical director, arranger
Years active1950s –present
Associated actsNina Simone

Alvin Schackman (born October 5, 1933) is an American jazz guitarist and arranger, most noted for his long association with Nina Simone as her accompanist from 1957 to 2000.


Born in New York, Schackman grew up in the Catskills before moving with his family to Brooklyn. He learned the guitar under teacher Rector Bailey, who had previously worked with Nat King Cole, and in his teens began touring with mixed race bands in the South.[1]

By 1957, he was working as a session musician in New York as well as performing with his own jazz group in Greenwich Village. One night, when Nina Simone was performing at the Playhouse Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Schackman lived, she agreed to him joining her on stage. According to Schackman, "Some people heard me playing and thought it would be great if the two of us would play together, so they asked her, and she said okay..".[2] The pairing was successful, Schackman later commenting: "I had never felt such freedom in knowing that someone knew exactly where I was going, and that she knew that I knew exactly where she was going... It was like telepathy....I think we saw, in each other's playing, a reflection of the way we approached music, which was to tell a story beyond the notes and with color...".[3] Schackman remained Simone's collaborator, accompanist, musical director and arranger, touring and recording with her for almost the whole of her career, from 1957 to 2000.[1]

Schackman also continued to work as a session musician, featuring on albums by Babatunde Olatunji, Harry Belafonte, Pearls Before Swine, Lee Konitz, and others. As well as guitar, he occasionally contributed on other instruments including piano, sitar, congas, vibraphone and marimba.[4]


  1. ^ a b Remy Tumin, "Still Keeping the Beat for Nina Simone", August 24, 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2019
  2. ^ Denise Sullivan, "Nina Simone Would've Been 80 Today", February 21, 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2019
  3. ^ Alan Light, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Canongate Books, 2016, ISBN 978 1 78211 871 8, pp.49-52
  4. ^ Al Schackman Credits, Retrieved 22 January 2019