Horace Tapscott

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Horace Tapscott
Tapscott in 1986
Tapscott in 1986
Background information
Birth nameHorace Elva Tapscott
Born(1934-04-06)April 6, 1934
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 27, 1999(1999-02-27) (aged 64)
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsPiano, trombone
Years active1950s–1990s

Horace Elva Tapscott (April 6, 1934 – February 27, 1999) was an American jazz pianist and composer.[1] He formed the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (also known as P.A.P.A., or The Ark) in 1961 and led the ensemble through the 1990s.[2]

Early life[edit]

Tapscott was born in Houston, Texas, and moved to Los Angeles, California, at the age of nine. By this time he had begun to study piano and trombone. He played with Frank Morgan, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins as a teenager.

Later life and career[edit]

After service in the Air Force in Wyoming, he returned to Los Angeles and played trombone with various bands, notably Lionel Hampton (1959–61). Soon after, though, he quit playing trombone and focused on piano.[3]

In 1961 Tapscott formed the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra,[4] with the aim of preserving, developing and performing African-American music. As his vision grew, this became just one part of a larger organization in 1963, the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), which later changed name to the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA).[3] Arthur Blythe, Stanley Crouch, Butch Morris, Wilber Morris, David Murray, Jimmy Woods, Nate Morgan and Guido Sinclair all performed in Tapscott's Arkestra at one time or another.[2] Tapscott and his work are the subjects of the UCLA Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection.[5]

Enthusiasts of his music formed two labels in the 1970s and 1980s, Interplay and Nimbus, for which he recorded.[3]


As leader[edit]

  • The Giant Is Awakened (Flying Dutchman, 1969) - as Horace Tapscott Quintet
  • Songs of the Unsung (Interplay, 1978)
  • In New York (Interplay, 1979)
  • Lighthouse 79, Vol. 1 (Nimbus West, 1979 [2009])
  • Lighthouse 79, Vol. 2 (Nimbus West, 1979 [2009])
  • At the Crossroads (with Everett Brown, Jr.) (Nimbus West, 1980)
  • Dial 'B' for Barbra (Nimbus West, 1981) - as Horace Tapscott Sextet
  • Live At Lobero (with Roberto Miranda and Sonship) (Nimbus West, 1981)
  • Live At Lobero, Vol. II (with Roberto Miranda and Sonship) (Nimbus West, 1981)
  • Little Africa (piano solo) (Art Union, 1983)
  • Dissent or Descent (Nimbus West, 1984 [1998])
  • Autumn Colors (Bopland, 1984; reissue: Interplay, 1990)
  • The Dark Tree (HatArt, 1991) - originally released as two separate volumes and re-released as a 2-CD set
  • Horace Tapscott's Arkestra Live in Chicago (1993)
  • Among Friends (with Sonny Simmons) (Jazz Friends Productions, 1995 [1999])
  • Aiee! The Phantom (Arabesque, 1996)
  • Thoughts of Dar es Salaam (Arabesque, 1997)
  • Live at Théâtre Du Chêne Noir - Avignon, France 1989 (with Michael Session) (The Village, 2020)

With the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra[edit]

  • The Call (Nimbus West, 1978)
  • Flight 17 (Nimbus West, 1978)
  • Live at I.U.C.C. (Nimbus West, 1979)
  • Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA, 1998 (with the Great Voice of UGMAA) (Dark Tree, 2019)
  • Ancestral Echoes: The Covina Sessions, 1976 (Dark Tree, 2020)
  • Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 (Nimbus West, 2020)

As sideman[edit]

With Lou Blackburn

With Roberto Miranda's Home Music Ensemble

  • Live at Bing Theatre - Los Angeles, 1985 (Dark Tree, 2021)

As composer and arranger[edit]

With Sonny Criss


  1. ^ Horace Tapscott at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b "Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection". Jazz Archival Collections. University of California, Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  3. ^ a b c Isoardi, Steven L. (2001). "Horace Tapscott". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.
  4. ^ Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom Principle. Da Capo. p. 297. ISBN 0306803771.
  5. ^ "Finding Aid for the Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection 1960-2002". Online Archive of California. Retrieved 2008-04-13.


  • Dailey, Raleigh. "The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles" (review). Notes Volume 63, Number 3, March 2007, pp. 632–634.
  • Isoardi, Steven L. The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles. April 2006. 394p. illus. index. University of California, $34.95 (0-520-24591-1).
  • Isoardi, Steven L. Songs of the Unsung: The Musical and Social Journey of Horace Tapscott. Duke University Press, 2001.
  • Isoardi, Steven L. The Music Finds a Way: A PAPA/UGMAA Oral History of Growing Up In Postwar South Central Los Angeles. Dark Tree, 2020.

External links[edit]