Parian, Horace (Louis)

views updated

Parian, Horace (Louis)

Parian, Horace (Louis), jazz pianist; b. Pittsburgh, Pa., Jan. 19, 1931. A pianist discovered by Charles Mingus, Parian has overcome disability and made it an asset. His right hand was partially crippled by polio when he was a child, yet he has made kinetic, rhythmic right-hand phrases part of his attack, contrasting them with striking left-hand chords. He filters blues and R&B influences through solos that are stark, sometimes somber, but never dull. Parian began playing in R&B bands during the 1950s, then moved from Pittsburgh to N.Y. and joined Mingus’s group, where he received considerable attention (1957–59). He worked with Booker Ervin (1960–61), then was a regular pianist with the Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis-Johnny Griffin quintet in 1962. He played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1963–66), and recorded with Tubby Hayes, Slide Hampton, Dexter Gordon, and others. He had a string of Blue Note releases in 1960–63, but encountered tough times near the end of the decade. He left the U.S. for Copenhagen in 1973, and during the 1970s and 1980s gained international recognition for some superb releases, including a pair of duet sessions with Archie Shepp. In 1986, he led his own trio on a tour of Japan, and in 1991 he played in Moscow with Red Mitchell.


Us three (1960); Speakin My Piece (1960); Movin’and Groovin’ (1960); Headin’ South (1960); Up and Down (1961); On the Spur of the Moment (1961); Happy Frame of Mind (1963); Back from the Gig (1963); Arrival (1973); No Blues (1975); Frankly Speaking (1977); Blue Parian (1978); Pannonica (1981); Like Someone in Love (1983); Musically Yours (1979); Maestro (1979); Going Home (1979); Glad I Found You (1984); Little Esther (1987).

—Lewis Porter