“David Amram is the Renaissance Man of American Music.”
—The Boston Globe
Join us in celebrating acclaimed composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist David Amram’s 92nd Birthday on Saturday, December 17.
Ever since meeting, jamming with, and being mentored by Dizzy Gillespie in 1951 and Charlie Parker in 1952, David Amram has continued over the past seven decades as one of the first pioneers, along with Julius Watkins, to include the French horn as an improvising voice in jazz. He has also pioneered the use of jazz and the all-embracing philosophy it embodies in every genre of music, as a foundation to inspire all sincere musicians to tell their story while learning, respecting, and then performing all true music that is built to last.
Amram has also been acclaimed as a major pioneer of World Music and has stated publicly that his broad-ranging interest in all kinds of music which touches the heart is the foundation of what Bird and Dizzy told him to pursue long ago when he expressed his dreams of becoming a jazz French hornist and a symphonic composer. He credits them with steering him on the path he has pursued and shared with the world ever since those first encounters. To remain open and respectful to all forms of artistic expression and the people and the cultures who keep these arts alive and share them with others.
As a performer, composer, and conductor/arranger, Amram has recorded with Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Kenny Dorham, Oscar Pettiford, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Candido, Betty Carter, Curtis Fuller, Pepper Adams, Mary Lou Williams, Thad Jones, Julius Watkins, T.S Monk, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Curtis Fuller, Jutta Hipp, Anita Ellis, Albert Mangelsdorff, and Emil Mangelsdorff; in addition to his `Folk’ work with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Judy Collins, Loudon Wainwright III, Steve Goodman, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Kate Taylor, and John McEuen. In addition, noted artists have also recorded his compositions, including Gerry Mulligan, Stan Kenton, David Sanborn, and the Percy Faith Orchestra.
He has also performed with Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Gerry Mulligan, Elvin Jones, Stan Getz, Earle “Fatha” Hines, Randy Weston, Kenny Burrell, Los Papines, Wynton Marsalis, Nina Simone, Stephane Grappelli, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Bobby Sanabria, Arturo Sandoval, Arturo O’Farrill, Jim Pepper, Yolande Bavan, Benny Golson, Bill Evans, and Kurt Elling.
Over the past sixty years, Amram has conducted symphony concerts with more than 75 of the world’s great orchestras and performed as a soloist with 40 orchestras, while often performing music from his more than 110 orchestral and chamber music works. At these concerts, he has often invited the participation of jazz artists as both soloists and as guest composers at his classical concerts, decades before the term `cross-over’ was ever used.
From Amram’s first film score in 1956 for the documentary film Echo of an Era (with Cecil Taylor playing piano on his first-ever recording); to the scores for Splendor in the Grass (with soloists Buster Bailey and George Barrow); The Manchurian Candidate (the original film – with stellar performances by Harold Land and Carmell Jones); to Jack Kerouac’s Pull My Daisy (with Sahib Shihab and David Amram as soloists, and Jack Kerouac narrating); and on up through his most recent films, Barbara Kopple’s New Homeland, and Michael Patrick Kelly’s Isn’t it Delicious, where he included jazz luminaries Paquito D’Rivera, Alex Foster, Earl McIntyre, Jerome Harris and guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Vic Juris, all performing with the classical musicians, he has consistently and artfully woven various musical styles and jazz together in almost all of his scores.
In 2019, Moochin’ About Records released the 5 CD Box Set, DAVID AMRAM’s Classic American Film Scores (1956 – 2016). The box set contains his jazz-influenced scores from seven of his most celebrated films, including Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass and The Arrangement; John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate and The Young Savages; and Jack Kerouac’s Pull My Daisy; in addition, two of his Broadway scores, for Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, and Budd Schulberg’s On the Waterfront, are included.
In 1966, when Leonard Bernstein chose Amram as the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever composer in residence, Bernstein encouraged Amram to continue to be an ambassador of music for young people and to always remember to share with them the enduring values of European classical music and the treasures of jazz, Native American and Latin American music — all of which are of enduring value, based on purity of intent and an exquisite choice of notes.
Amram has been honored as the recipient of The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award, and the New York’s Highlights in Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award; along with Folk Alliance International’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the Pete & Toshi Seeger’s Power of Song Award; and the Spirit of Farm Aid Award, in honor of his 34 years playing with the Willie Nelson Band at Farm Aid.
He is the author of three memoirs, all published by Routledge Press, Nine Lives of a Musical Cat (2009); Collaborating With Kerouac (2005); and the highly acclaimed Vibrations (1968, 2007). In 2023, Routledge Press will be releasing his next memoir DAVID AMRAM @ 90: Promising Young Composer. The documentary film DAVID AMRAM: The First 80 Years, was released in 2011 on Vimeo on Demand; and in 2023, Lawrence Kraman will be releasing the feature-length film documentary DAVID AMRAM @ 90.
His archive of manuscripts, personal papers, and musical scores have been acquired by the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts Branch of the New York Public Library
Today, as he approaches 92, Amram continues to follow his muse, and maintain a remarkable pace of composing new classical pieces, while making recordings and performing as a bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, guest conductor, instrumental soloist, narrator teacher, and lecturer in five languages.
Showtime is at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $30 in advance / $35 day of show. For more info, visit https://www.zincjazz.com.