Bobby Few

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Bobby Few
Bobby Few and unknown musician in 2007
Bobby Few and unknown musician in 2007
Background information
Born(1935-10-21)October 21, 1935
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJanuary 6, 2021(2021-01-06) (aged 85)
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Associated actsAlbert Ayler, Steve Lacy, Frank Wright

Bobby Few (October 21, 1935 – January 6, 2021) was an American jazz pianist and vocalist.

Early life[edit]

Few was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the Fairfax neighborhood of the city's East Side. Upon his mother's encouragement, he studied classical piano but later discovered jazz upon listening to his father's Jazz at the Philharmonic records. His father became his first booking agent and soon Few was gigging around the greater Cleveland area with other local musicians including Bill Hardman, Bob Cunningham, Cevera Jefferies and Frank Wright. He was exposed to Tadd Dameron and Benny Bailey as a youth and knew Albert Ayler, with whom he played in high school. As a young man, Few also gigged with local tenor legend Tony "Big T" Lovano – Joe Lovano's father.


In the late 1950s Few relocated to New York, where he led a trio from 1958 to 1964; there, he met and began working with many world-class musicians, including singer Brook Benton, and saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson and Ayler.[1] Few played on several of Ayler's albums and also recorded with Alan Silva, Noah Howard, Muhammad Ali, Booker Ervin, and Kali Fasteau. In 1969 he moved to France and rapidly integrated the expatriate jazz community, working frequently with Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Steve Lacy and Rasul Siddik. From 2001, he toured internationally with American saxophonist Avram Fefer, with whom he recorded four critically acclaimed CDs.

Few played extensively around Europe and made[2] regular trips back to the United States.[3] Recently, he played with saxophonist Charles Gayle and led his own trio in Paris. He was working on a Booker Ervin tribute project called Few's Blues that featured tenor player Tony Lakatos, bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Doug Sides. Few was interviewed in a 2008 documentary, later released on DVD, on drummer Sunny Murray - "Sunny's Time Now".

Bobby Few died in January 2021, aged 85.[4]

Playing style[edit]

Some of Few's various playing styles were described by Kevin Whitehead: "He can play delicate single-note melodies, roll out lush romantic chords, rap out explicitly Monkish close-interval clanks – though he's a busier pianist than Monk – or roil around in classic free style, using a sustain pedal to shape the density of his sound".[2]


As leader or co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1973 More or Less Few Center of the World Trio, with Alan Silva (bass), Muhammad Ali (drums)
1975 Solos and Duets Sun Solo piano; most tracks are by Alan Silva and Frank Wright, without Few
1975 Solos and Duets Vol 2 Sun Duo, with Alan Silva; other tracks are by Silva and Frank Wright, without Few
1977 Few Coming Thru Sun Solo piano
1979 Continental Jazz Express Vogue Solo piano
1979 Diom Futa Free Lance Trio, with Jo Maka (soprano sax), Cheikh Tidiane Fall (percussion)
1983 Rhapsody in Few Black Lion Trio, with Alan Silva (bass), Muhammad Ali (drums)
1992 Mysteries Miss You Jazz
1997 Expatriate Kin CIMP Trio, with Zusaan Kali Fasteau (cello, soprano sax), Noah Howard (alto sax)
2000 Continental Jazz Express Boxholder Solo piano; in concert
2000 Few and Far Between Boxholder Trio, with Avram Fefer (tenor sax), Wilber Morris (bass); in concert
2002 Let It Rain
2002 Live in New York Boxholder
2004 Kindred Spirits Boxholder Duo, with Avram Fefer (tenor sax, clarinet)
2004 Heavenly Places Boxholder Duo, with Avram Fefer (tenor sax, clarinet)
2004 Lights and Shadows Boxholder Solo piano
2005 Sanctuary CIMP with Avram Fefer
2007 True Wind Hello World! with Sonny Simmons

As sideman[edit]

Years in brackets refer to dates of recording.

With Albert Ayler

With Avram Fefer

  • Few and Far Between (Boxholder 2002) w/ Wilber Morris
  • Kindred Spirits (Boxholder, 2005)
  • Heavenly Places (Boxholder, 2005)
  • Sanctuary (CIMP, 2006) w/ Newman Taylor Baker, Hill Greene

With Hans Dulfer

  • El Saxofón (Catfish, 1970)

With Mike Ellis

  • What Else is New? (Alfa, 1985)

With Booker Ervin

With Zusaan Kali Fasteau

  • Sensual Hearing (Flying Note, 1994–95)
  • Camaraderie (Flying Note, 1997)
  • Making Waves (Flying Note, 2004)

With Ricky Ford

  • Songs for My Mother (Jazz Friends Production, 2001)

With Noah Howard

  • Space Dimension (America, 1969)
  • Red Star (Mercury, 1977)
  • Traffic (Frame, 1980)
  • In Concert (Cadence, 1997)
  • Live at the Unity Temple (Ayler, 1997)

With Talib Kibwe

  • Egyptian Oasis (Cryonic, 1986)

With Steve Lacy

With David Murray

With Sunny Murray

  • Aigu-Grave (Marge, 1979)

With Archie Shepp

With Alan Silva

  • Treasure Box (Eremite, 2001)

With Marzette Watts

  • The Marzette Watts Ensemble (Savoy, 1968)

With Joe Lee Wilson

  • Secrets From The Sun (Sun, 1977)

With Frank Wright


  1. ^ Wilmer, Valerie. In Uhuru Na Umoja [Musidisc-Europe LP liner notes].
  2. ^ a b Whitehead, Kevin (April 4, 2002). "Avram Fefer & Bobby Few", Chicago Reader.
  3. ^ Weaver, Arnold (January 6, 1994). "The return of a native legend", Call & Post, [Cleveland, Ohio], p. SH.
  4. ^ Denis, Jacques (January 7, 2021). "Mort de Bobby Few, pianiste sans chapelle". Libération. Retrieved January 8, 2021.

External links[edit]