Jazz Flute Backstory

 

I took up the flute when I was 22 years old — late to start an instrument, but fine for me since I had no professional ambitions for the instrument. At first I was interested only in classical flute — Bach was my inspiration — but a friend (and excellent vibes player), John O’Benar, got me interested in jazz.

 

I played in several jazz and improvisation groups in Illinois and California — notably the weird and wonderful group “Thesis” in San Francisco, starting in the late 1960s. Some day I’ll finish writing up the bizarre tales of those years with Thesis.

 

The flute has never achieved the kind of front-line status in the jazz world comparable to, say, the sax or the trombone. But the best much such jazz flutists — Jeremy Steig, Hubert Laws, Jimmy Walker, and many others — deserve at least a niche in the jazz pantheon.

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