|Birth name||James Avery Parrish|
January 24, 1917|
Birmingham, Alabama, US
December 10, 1959 (aged 42)|
New York City, New York, US
|Occupation(s)||Musician, composer, arranger|
|Associated acts||Erskine Hawkins|
James Avery Parrish (January 24, 1917 – December 10, 1959) was an American jazz pianist, composer and arranger. He wrote and recorded "After Hours". Injuries from a bar fight in 1943 ended his career as a pianist.
Parrish studied at the Alabama State Teachers College, where he played in the Bama State Collegians, an ensemble led by Erskine Hawkins. He remained in Hawkins's employ until 1942, and recorded with him extensively. Parrish wrote the music to "After Hours", and a 1940 recording of the tune with Hawkins's orchestra resulted in its becoming a jazz standard. He also wrote arrangements for Hawkins.
In August 1942 Parrish was injured in a car crash that killed Marcellus Green, one of Hawkins's trumpeters. They were in a group of five in the vehicle, driving between Pittsburgh and Chattanooga to gigs when it overturned. Parrish left Hawkins later that year and moved to California. He was a commercially successful solo pianist there. He was involved in a bar fight in 1943 – he was hit in the head by a bar stool – which put him in hospital for a few months. This left him partly paralyzed; he was unable to play music for the rest of his life.
Parrish died of unknown causes on December 10, 1959. A contemporary report stated that he "had been found lying in Harlem streets five days before he died at the Harlem Hospital. There were no marks of violence on his body." Author and music executive Arnold Shaw stated that Parrish suffered "a fall down a flight of stairs". At the time, Parrish was living with his mother on Saint Nicholas Avenue and "working as a porter for a local bottling company." He was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, New York. He was survived by his mother and a brother, Julian.
In 1979, Parrish was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S (2013) Blues: A Regional Experience. Praeger. p. 45.
- Yanow, Scott. "Avery Parrish – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- Lambert, Katherine Kent (November 18, 1939) "Birmingham News". The Chicago Defender. p. 10.
- "Musician Avery Parrish Dies". The Pittsburgh Courier. January 2, 1960. p. 23. Retrieved August 10, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- McMillan, Allan (November 16, 1935) "Hi Hattin' in Harlem". The Chicago Defender. p. 9.
- McMillan, Allan (July 4, 1964) "On Broadway: Private Papers of a Dawn Patroller". New Pittsburgh Courier p. 15.
- "'Record Man' Returns to WOR Program" (May 9, 1942) The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 20.
- McCarthy, Albert J (1974) Big Band Jazz. Putnam. p. 233.
- "Erskine Hawkins Bandsman Is Killed: Hawkins Bandsman Killed in Accident Avery Parrish, Pianist. Among Others Hurt in Auto Capsizing". (August 15, 1942) New York Amsterdam Star-News. p. 1.
- "Hawkins Band Member Dies in Car Crash". (August 15, 1942) The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 1.
- "Rowe's Notebook". (October 17, 1942) The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 20.
- Shaw, Arnold (1978) Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues. Collier. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-02-061760-0.
- "Avery Parrish, Erskine Hawkins' Swing Pianist, Is Still Alive!". (August 14, 1943) The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 20.
- "Avery Parrish Leaves Hospital". (November 6, 1943) The Pittsburgh Courier. p. 19.
- Bruyninckx, Walter (1981) 60 Years of Recorded Jazz 1917–1977, Volume 9. W. Bruyninckx. p. 97.
- "Avery Parrish Pianist Dies; Was Composer". (December 19, 1959) New York Amsterdam News. p. 38.