Nat Pierce

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Nat Pierce
Nat Pierce.jpg
Dick Sheridan (born 1936) and Nat Pierce in NYC, 1961
Background information
Birth name Nathaniel Pierce Blish, Jr.
Born (1925-07-16)July 16, 1925
Somerville, Massachusetts
United States
Died June 10, 1992(1992-06-10) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California
United States
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano
Associated acts

Nat Pierce (né Nathaniel Pierce Blish Jr.; 16 July 1925 Somerville, Massachusetts – 10 June 1992 Los Angeles) was an American jazz pianist and prolific composer and arranger, perhaps best known for being pianist and arranger for the Woody Herman band from 1951 to 1955. Pieces by Pierce were predominantly created for use in big bands.[1]


Following schooling at the New England Conservatory and working as an amateur musician in the Boston area, Pierce then led his own band which featured Charlie Mariano from 1949 to 1951. After working with Woody Herman from 1951 to 1966 as chief arranger and assistant road manager, Pierce took residence in New York City and freelanced with musicians such as Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Emmett Berry and Ruby Braff, to name a few.

From 1957 to 1959 Pierce led a band off and on which featured Buck Clayton, Gus Johnson and Paul Quinichette. He recorded with a number of other well-known musicians as well, including Quincy Jones, Coleman Hawkins and Pee Wee Russell. Pierce was noted for his ability to play piano in the Basie style and appeared on many releases by Basie sidemen. Pierce also arranged the music for The Sound of Jazz, a 1954 CBS television special hosted by John Crosby. Together with Frank Capp he founded the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut Band in 1975.

Pierce died of complications from an abdominal infection in Los Angeles, California.[2]

Partial discography[edit]

As Leader[edit]

As Nat Pierce and His Orchestra

  • Kansas City Memories (Coral, 1957[3])[4]

As sideman[edit]

With Louis Bellson

With Ruby Braff

With Al Cohn

With Freddie Green

With Johnny Hodges

With Joe Newman

With Paul Quinichette

With Buddy Tate

As arranger[edit]

With Count Basie

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Woody Herman

With Quincy Jones


External links[edit]