Bern Nix

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Bern Nix
Bern Nix Guitarist.jpg
Bern Nix, Les Gallery Clemente Soto Velez, February 2005
Background information
BornSeptember 21, 1947
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
DiedMay 31, 2017(2017-05-31) (aged 69)
New York City
Years active1975–2017
LabelsTompkins Square
Associated actsOrnette Coleman, James Chance and the Contortions

Bern Nix (September 21, 1947 – May 31, 2017)[1] was an American jazz guitarist. He recorded and performed with Ornette Coleman from 1975–87, notably with guitarist Charlie Ellerbee in Coleman's Prime Time group on their key recordings, including Dancing in Your Head and In All Languages in 1987. Nix was voted among the top ten jazz guitarists poll by Down Beat magazine.[2]


A native of Toledo, Ohio, Nix taught guitar upon his arrival to New York City. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Nix led the Bern Nix trio from 1985 until his death in 2017 in New York City. In 1993, the band released the album Alarms and Excursions.[3] The album made many critics' top ten lists. Nix released the solo album Low Barometer (Tompkins Square) in September 2006. His composition "Les is More" appears on Art and Money, an album released by 1687, Inc. in 2006. In 2013, the Bern Nix Quartet released Negative Capability.[4]

Nix's song "The Fire Within" was on the soundtrack of the film Tangerine directed by Sean Baker. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015.

His quartet included Francois Grillot, Reggie Sylvester, and Matt Lavelle and performed over 50 concerts, mostly in New York City.

Nix performed with James Chance and the Contortions and appeared on their album Live in New York (1981). He also worked with Jayne Cortez, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, Jemeel Moondoc, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Kip Hanrahan, and Lenore Von Stein.


As a leader[edit]

  • Alarms and Excursions (New World/Counter Currents, 1993)
  • Low Barometer (Tompkins Square, 2006)
  • Negative Capability (56 Kitchen, 2013)
  • Tangerine (Milan, 2015)[5]

As sideman[edit]

With James Chance and the Contortions

  • Live in New York (1981)

With Ornette Coleman

With Jayne Cortez

  • Unsubmissive Blues (Bola Press, 1979)
  • There It Is (Bola Press, 1982)
  • Maintain Control (Bola Press, 1986)
  • Everywhere Drums (Bola Press, 1990)
  • Cheerful & Optimistic (Bola Press, 1994)
  • Taking the Blues Back Home (Harmolodic/Verve, 1996)[7]
  • Borders of Disorderly Time (Bola Press, 2002)[8]

With Ronald Shannon Jackson

  • Eye on You (About Time, 1980)

With Frank Lowe

With Jemeel Moondoc

With Keith Yaun and Mat Maneri

  • Amen: Improvisations on Messiaen (Boxholder, 1999)


  1. ^ Nate Chinen, "Bern Nix, Guitarist Steeped in Ornette Coleman's Harmolodic Language, Dies at 69", WBGO, June 1, 2017.
  2. ^ "Bern Nix @ All About Jazz". Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  3. ^ "Alarms & Excursions". AllMusic.
  4. ^ "Bern Nix Quartet: Negative Capability". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  5. ^ (all Discography entries)
  6. ^
  7. ^ Taking the Blues Back Home at AllMusic. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Bern Nix at Wikimedia Commons