Gryce, Gigi (aka Quism, Basheer)

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Gryce, Gigi (aka Quism, Basheer)

Gryce, Gigi (aka Quism, Basheer), jazz saxophonist, arranger, and composer; b. Pensacola, Fla., Nov. 28, 1925; d. there, March 14, 1983. A great admirer of Tadd Dameron. He studied composition in Boston, gigging in local groups in Hartford and Boston from 1947. In 1952 he went to Paris, perhaps to study informally—he didn′t do much jazz playing there. In 1953 he toured with Lionel Hampton′s band and recorded with bandmate Clifford Brown. Later that year he and Brown worked in Atlantic City for Tadd Dameron, whom he greatly admired. He subsequently worked with Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford, then began leading his own bands. He co-led the Jazz Lab Quintet with Donald Byrd and did arrangements for Art Farmer (1950s). He was also a jazz music publisher. He recorded with Thelonious Monk (Monk′s Music from 1957 as well as a quartet session under his own name), Lee Morgan, and others before he quit performing in the early 1960s, possibly due to personal problems. During the 1970s, he changed his name simply to Quism. He became an elementary school teacher—so admired that the Bronx school where he taught is now named after him. Among his best-known pieces is ′′Nica′s Tempo′ now a standard; he also wrote ′′Stan′s Blues′′ (formerly ′′Eleanor,′′ after his first wife) and has also received credit for ′′Wildwood,′′ both recorded by Stan Getz. His music was used by Fred Baker in his award-winning short On the Sound (1961) and in Baker′s Lenny Bruce without Tears (1972).


Blue and Brown (1953); G. G. and His Big Band (1953);G. G. and His Orch. (1953); G. G.-Clifford Brown Sextet (1953); Bird Calls, Vol. 2 (1955); Jordu (1955); Nica′s Tempo (1955); Signals (1955); And the Jazz Lab Quintet (1957); At Newport (1957); Modern Jazz Perspective (1957); Quartet (1958); Jazz Lab (1958); Hap′nin’s (1960); Jazz Lab Quintet (1960); Rat Race Blues (1960); Sayin’ Somethin′! (1960); Reminiscin’ (1961).

—Lewis Porter/Michael Fitzgerald