November-1st-2004, 02:58 PM
Gil Melle - R.I.P.
Gil Melle, the baritone saxophonist, composer, painter, and all around
Renaissance man, died yesterday of a heart attack at his home in Malibu,
California. He was 73 years old.
Melle was born on the last day of 1931 in New York City and began
painting and playing the saxophone at an early age. When only 19 years
old, he was signed to Blue Note Records by label founder Alfred Lion,
becoming the first white artist on the storied jazz label. He made
several 10" records for Blue Note and Prestige Records throughout the
early 1950s before recording his first full-length 12" LP for Blue Note,
Patterns In Jazz, in 1956.
Apart from his musical career, Melle maintained a career as a visual
artist, and at times the two intersected. His art, beyond showing at
various New York galleries, was also used in the cover design of records
by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, as well as several of
his own records.
Melle moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and his jazz recording became
sparse as he focused on painting and composing for film and television.
His fascination with science and technology led him in the direction of
electronic music and he began collecting, and even building his own,
electronic instruments, including some of the earliest synthesizers and
drum machines. In 1967, he performed with the first all-electronic jazz
ensemble, The Electronauts, at the 10th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
His score for the sci-fi thriller The Andromeda Strain (1971), based on
a novel by Michael Crichton, was perhaps the first electronic music
score for film.
Melle returned to Blue Note with his 1991 release Mindscapes, which
included "The Blue Lion," a musical eulogy for his life-long friend and
mentor Alfred Lion. "Gil was like a beloved son to Alfred," said Ruth
Lion, Alfred's widow. "Gil Melle was a true Renaissance man, a
multi-talented artist," said current Blue Note President Bruce Lundvall,
"He was one of Alfred Lion's protégés and remained a great friend of the
label right up until his passing."
At the time of this writing, no information about memorial services was
November-2nd-2004, 05:57 AM
"Long way from home"
This is sad...not just for Gil's family, but I read somewhere that Rudy VG first decided to set up the "Bluenote Studio" in his house after recordoing Gil.
November-2nd-2004, 04:00 PM
Ah!!! Mr. Jelly!!!
This is really sad to hear.
I absolutely loved the cut "Timepiece" which I thought should have become a jazz standard with all of its shifting gears, if you'll pardon the pun. I felt he was working on some of the same ideas of writing more vertically as George Russell and perhaps Bill Holman. I only knew his music through the Complete Blue Note Sessions, but I love just about every part of it. One of the great bari players ever and a fine composer/conceptualist to boot. It's too bad he didn't record more often.
Last edited by Rob Damen; November-2nd-2004 at 04:01 PM.
November-2nd-2004, 04:13 PM
I was just listening to the albums Quintet/Sextet and Primitive Modern. Gil Melle was way underappreciated. I also have Patterns in Jazz and Gil's Guests. All mentioned albums are worth lots of listening. His albums are versatile, some almost third-stream.
Yet another sad loss.