Gryce, Gigi [Quism, Basheer] (Pensacola, FL, 28 Nov 1927 - Pensacola, 17 arch 1983)

Alto saxophonist, arranger, and composer



He grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and began studies in composition with Daniel Pinkham and Alan Hovhaness at the Boston Conservatory in 1948; having won a Fulbright scholarship, he continued his studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger. After his return to the USA he became involved in jazz in New York, where he performed and recorded with Max Roach, Howard McGhee, Tadd Dameron, and Clifford Brown in 1953; later that year he toured Europe with Lionel Hampton's band. In 1954 he recorded with Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Thelonious Monk, and others, and the following year he began leading his own group, the Jazz Lab Quintet, which also included Byrd. In the 1960s he ceased playing jazz professionally and became a teacher.


Besides his principal instrument Gryce played clarinet and flute. His style was heavily influenced by Charlie Parker, though he had a thinner tone than Parker and lacked his melodic inventiveness. His skills as an arranger are represented by his recordings with Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and Oscar Pettiford. His best-known jazz composition is Minority; among his classical compositions are three symphonies and various chamber works.


 Thomas Owens


The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988