Horace Parlan

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Horace Parland.png
Horace Parlan
Born(1931-01-19)January 19, 1931
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 23, 2017(2017-02-23) (aged 86)
Korsør, Denmark
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
LabelsBlue Note, SteepleChase

Horace Parlan (January 19, 1931 – February 23, 2017)[1] was an American pianist and composer known for working in the hard bop and post-bop styles of jazz. In addition to his work as a bandleader Parlan was known for his contributions to the Charles Mingus recordings Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.[2] In his birth year, Parlan was stricken with polio, resulting in the partial crippling of his right hand. The handicap contributed to his development of a particularly "pungent" left-hand chord voicing style, while comping with highly rhythmic phrases with the right.[3]

Later life and career[edit]

Between 1952 and 1957, he worked in Washington D.C. with Sonny Stitt, then spent two years with Mingus' Jazz Workshop.[3] In 1973, Parlan moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. He later settled in the small village of Rude in southern Zealand. In 1974, he completed a State Department tour of Africa with Hal Singer.[3]

His later work, such as a series of duos with the tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp included the album Goin' Home (1977),[2] steeped in gospel music.

Parlan received the 2000 Ben Webster Prize awarded by the Ben Webster Foundation.

He died at a nursing home in Naestved, Denmark at the age of 86. He had been suffering from multiple ailments, including diabetes and failing eyesight.[4][5]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Year released Title Label Notes
1960 1960 Movin' & Groovin' Blue Note Trio, with Sam Jones (bass), Al Harewood (drums)
1960 1960 Us Three Blue Note Trio, with George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)
1960 1960 Speakin' My Piece Blue Note Quintet, with Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax), George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)
1960 1961 Headin' South Blue Note Some tracks trio, with George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums); most tracks quartet, with Ray Barretto (congas) added
1961 1961 On the Spur of the Moment Blue Note Quintet, with Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax), George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)
1961 1961 Up & Down Blue Note Quintet, with Booker Ervin (tenor sax), Grant Green (guitar), George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums)
1963 1976 Happy Frame of Mind Blue Note One track quintet, with Johnny Coles (trumpet), Booker Ervin (tenor sax), Butch Warren (bass), Billy Higgins (drums); other tracks sextet, with Grant Green (guitar) added; originally released as part of Booker Ervin's Back from the Gig; released in Parlan's name in 1986[6][7]
1973 1974 Arrival SteepleChase Some tracks trio, with Hugo Rasmussen (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums); some tracks quintet, with Idrees Sulieman (flugelhorn), Bent Jædig (tenor sax) added
1975 1976 No Blues Steeplechase Trio, with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), Tony Inzalaco (drums)
1977 1977 Frank-ly Speaking Steeplechase Quintet, with Frank Foster (tenor sax), Frank Strozier (alto sax), Lisle Atkinson (bass) Al Harewood (drums)
1977 1977 Goin' Home Steeplechase Duo, co-led with Archie Shepp (tenor sax, soprano sax)
1978 1978 Hi-Fly Steeplechase Trio, with Doug Raney (guitar), Wilbur Little (bass)
1978 1978 Blue Parlan Steeplechase Trio, with Wilbur Little (bass), Dannie Richmond (drums)
1979 1979 Musically Yours Steeplechase Solo piano
1979 1982 The Maestro Steeplechase Solo piano
1980 1980 Trouble in Mind Steeplechase Duo, co-led with Archie Shepp (tenor sax, soprano sax)
1981 1984 Pannonica Enja Trio, with Reggie Johnson (bass), Alvin Queen (drums)
1983 1983 Like Someone in Love Steeplechase Trio, with Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Dannie Richmond (drums)
1983 1991 Jazzbühne Berlin Repertoire Solo piano; album shared with Mal Waldron
1984 1984 Glad I Found You Steeplechase Quintet, with Thad Jones (flugelhorn), Eddie Harris (tenor sax), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Aage Tanggaard (drums)
1987 1987 Little Esther Soul Note Quartet, with Per Goldschmidt (baritone sax), Klavs Hovman (bass), Massimo De Majo (drums)
1987 1987 Duo Reunion L+R Duo, co-led with Archie Shepp (tenor sax)
1988 Keep Your Hands Wide Open Olufsen Most tracks duo, with Soren S. Eriksen (alto sax); one track trio, with Thomas Helmig (vocals) added
1991 1993 Swing Low Plainisphare Duo, co-led with Archie Shepp (tenor sax, alto sax, vocals); in concert[8]
1994 Joinin' Forces Olufsen Duo, co-led with Jan Kaspersen (piano)
1998 We Three Baybridge Trio, with Mads Vinding (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums)
1999 Voyage of Rediscovery Storyville Solo piano
1998 2001 The Horace Parlan Trio M&I Trio, with Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums); also released as Kōjō no Tsuki (荒城の月)
2001 2002 Behind the Blues Leafage Jazz Some tracks trio, with Mads Vinding (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums); some tracks quartet, with Staffan William-Olsson (guitar) added
2003 Relaxin' with Horace Stunt Trio, with Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Ed Thigpen (drums)
2007 My Little Brown Book Stunt Trio, with Christina Von Bulow (alto sax), Jesper Lundgaard (bass)

Main source:[9]

Documentary, released on DVD: Horace Parlan by Horace Parlan[10]

As sideman[edit]

With Dave Bailey

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Lou Donaldson

With Booker Ervin

With Dexter Gordon

With Slide Hampton

With Roland Kirk

With Charles Mingus

With Doug Raney

With Archie Shepp

  • Splashes (L+R, 1987)
  • Black Ballads (Timeless, 1992)

With Idrees Sulieman

  • Bird's Grass (SteepleChase, 1985) – recorded in 1976
  • Groovin' (SteepleChase, 1986) – recorded in 1985

With Stanley Turrentine

With others


  1. ^ "Jazzlegenden Horace Parlan er død". Sn.dk. 25 February 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1911. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ a b c Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (18 November 1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-19-972907-4. Retrieved October 3, 2021 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Horace Parlan, Jazz Pianist Who Overcame Disability, Dies at 86". Billboard.com. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  5. ^ "Horace Parlan, jazz pianist who overcame disability, dies at 86 - the Washington Post". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2020-10-22. Retrieved 2020-10-20.
  6. ^ "Blue Note Records Catalog: 4100 series". jazzdisco. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomans. "Happy Frame of Mind: Horace Parlan". AllMusic. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  8. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Swing Low: Archie Shepp". AllMusic. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  9. ^ "Horace Parlan Discography". jazzdisco. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  10. ^ "Horace Parlan by Horace Parlan". loc.gov. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  11. ^ "A Moon Of Roses (1994, CD)". Discogs.com. Retrieved October 3, 2021.

External links[edit]