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Bern Nix

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Bern Nix
Bern Nix, Les Gallery Clemente Soto Velez, February 2005
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, U.S.
Years active1975–2017
LabelsTompkins Square

Bern Nix (September 21, 1947 – May 31, 2017)[1] was an American jazz guitarist. He recorded and performed with Ornette Coleman from 1975 to 1987, 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 was introduced to music in childhood and began playing the guitar at age 11. Driven toward the jazz guitarists of the time, he listened intently to Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Rainey, Barney Kessel, and Charlie Christian. He taught guitar upon his arrival to New York City. He was a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Nix led The Bern Nix Trio (with William Parker, Bass, and David Cappello, Drums) 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 leader[edit]

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

As sideman[edit]

With Ornette Coleman

With Jayne Cortez

  • Unsubmissive Blues (Bola Press, 1980)
  • There It Is (Bola Press, 1982)
  • Maintain Control (Bola Press, 1986)
  • Everywhere Drums (Bola Press, 1990)
  • Poetry & Music (Tradition & Moderne, 1994)
  • Cheerful & Optimistic (Bola Press, 1994)
  • Taking the Blues Back Home (Harmolodic/Verve, 1996)[5]
  • Borders of Disorderly Time (Bola Press, 2003)

With Jemeel Moondoc

With Others


  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". Musicians.allaboutjazz.com. July 14, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  3. ^ "Alarms & Excursions". AllMusic.
  4. ^ "Bern Nix Quartet: Negative Capability". All About Jazz. July 14, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  5. ^ "Taking the Blues Back Home". AllMusic. Retrieved September 11, 2020.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Bern Nix at Wikimedia Commons