World Saxophone Quartet

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World Saxophone Quartet
In 2007, from left to right: David Murray, Tony Kofi, Oliver Lake and Hamiet Bluiett. Photo by Andy Newcombe
In 2007, from left to right: David Murray, Tony Kofi, Oliver Lake and Hamiet Bluiett. Photo by Andy Newcombe
Background information
Years active1977–2016
Past members

The World Saxophone Quartet is an American jazz ensemble founded in 1977, incorporating elements of free jazz, R&B, funk and South African jazz into their music.[1]

The original members were Julius Hemphill (alto and soprano saxophone, flute), Oliver Lake (alto and soprano saxophone), Hamiet Bluiett (baritone saxophone, alto clarinet), and David Murray (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet).[2] The first three had worked together as members of the Black Artists' Group in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1991, Hemphill left the group due to illness, and was replaced by Arthur Blythe,[2] although several saxophonists have filled his chair in the years since. Hemphill died on April 2, 1995.[3] In the late 1980s, the quartet used Bluiett's composition "Hattie Wall" (released on W.S.Q., Live in Zurich, Dances and Ballads, Steppenwolf and Yes We Can) as a signature theme for the group. The group principally recorded and performed as a saxophone quartet, usually with a line-up of two altos, tenor, and baritone (reflecting the composition of a classical string quartet), but were also joined later in their career by drummers, bassists, and other musicians.[2] Occasionally other saxophonists would sit in or substitute for a tour. These guests have included Sam Rivers, Tony Kofi, Steve Potts, Branford Marsalis, James Spaulding and Jorge Sylvester. Hamiet Bluiett died on October 4, 2018, after an extended illness.[4] The ensemble had split up in 2016.[1]



Title Year Label
Point of No Return 1977 Moers Music
Steppin' with the World Saxophone Quartet 1979 Black Saint
W.S.Q. 1981 Black Saint
Revue 1982 Black Saint
Live in Zurich 1984 Black Saint
Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music 1986 Black Saint
Plays Duke Ellington 1986 Elektra / Nonesuch
Dances and Ballads 1987 Elektra / Nonesuch
Rhythm and Blues 1989 Elektra / Nonesuch
Metamorphosis 1991 Elektra / Nonesuch
Moving Right Along 1993 Black Saint
Breath of Life 1994 Elektra / Nonesuch
Four Now 1996 Justin Time
Takin' It 2 the Next Level 1996 Justin Time
Selim Sivad: A Tribute to Miles Davis 1998 Justin Time
Requiem for Julius 2000 Justin Time
25th Anniversary: The New Chapter 2001 Justin Time
Steppenwolf 2002 Justin Time
Experience 2004 Justin Time
Political Blues 2006 Justin Time
Yes We Can[5] 2011 Jazzwerkstatt


  1. ^ a b "World Saxophone Quartet | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 440. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  3. ^ Peter Watrous (April 4, 1995). "Julius Hemphill, Saxophonist And Composer, Is Dead at 57". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Hamiet Bluiett Dies at 78". October 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Yes We Can at AllMusic

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