Lightsey, Kirk

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Lightsey, Kirk

Lightsey, Kirk, American pianist; b. Detroit, Mich., Feb. 15, 1937. He was born in one of the American hotbeds of bop pianism and it is no surprise that the style forms a substantial portion of his musical persona. It was there that he learned piano at an early age before spending some time in his high school band as a clarinet player. After a stint in the Army, he made a career of accompanying singers such as Ernestine Anderson, Damita Jo, and O.C. Smith before finally getting the chance to record with Sonny Stitt in 1965. Shortly after that, he joined Chet Baker’s band, recording a series of well- received albums with the trumpeter/singer. His next marquee setting was with saxophonist Dexter Gordon, and he has also worked and recorded with a wide variety of, others players, including Don Cherry, Jimmy Raney, Clifford Jordan, and James Moody. Living in Europe since the 1980s, he is an important cog in jazz supergroups the Leaders and Roots.


Lightsey 1 (1983); Everything Happens to Me (1983); Isotope (1983); Lightsey 2 (1985); Shorter by Two (1985); Everything Is Changed (1986); Lightsey Live (1986); Kirk ’n Marcus (1987); Heaven Dance (1988); Temptation (1991); From Kirk to Nat (1991); First Affairs (1993); Saying Something (1995).

—Garaud MacTaggart