Pianist composer Herbie Nichols was born in NYC in 1919; he worked in late 1940s with Hal Singer, Illinois Jacquet, and John Kirby. He is best known for his unique compositions which he began writing in 1939. His writing and playing were influenced by Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell; they feature unusual melodic and rhythmic ideas; his playing mixed swing and bebop with a Caribbean influence. He recorded two trio albums for Blue Note in 1955 and 1956 and an album for Bethlehem in 1957.
Other than a little work as a sideman on other leaders' sessions, this is his only legacy. But his compositions, including "Lady sings the blues" which he wrote for Billie Holiday, and others, were rediscovered in the 1980s with support of Roswell Rudd, Archie Shepp, Buell Neidlinger, and Misha Mengelberg. In addition unrecorded pieces have surfaced and been recorded posthumously by the Herbie Nichols Project and others. Nichols died forgotten in 1963, but his work is much better known now than during his lifetime.
The complete Blue Note recordings . Blue Note, 3CD set, 1955-56, c1997.
Love cash gloom. Bethlehem, 1957.
Herbie Nichols Project: Strange City . Palmetto, 2001.
Giddins, Gary. Rhythm-a-ning: jazz tradition and innovation in the ‘80s . Oxford, 1985.
Litweiler, John. The freedom principle: jazz after 1958 . Da Capo, 1984, 1990.
Spellman, A.B. Four jazz lives . Univ. of Michigan, 1966, 2004.
Hard bop piano: jazz compositions of the 50s and 60s . Gerard and Sarzin, 1992.