Obituary: Art Porter

The jazz saxophonist Art Porter came from a musical family. His father, Art Porter Snr, was a professional pianist who led his own band, worked with the John Stubblefield band and, for a time, accompanied the singer Carmen McRae. Porter junior began playing saxophone at 15, initially in his father's band in Little Rock, Arkansas. His prodigal talents led him into some misfortune, however, and he was arrested and charged for working under age in a night club. Fortunately for him, the case caught the attention of the state attorney general, Bill Clinton, and, thanks to his involvement, the legislature changed the law, allowing youngsters to work in such establishments, if chaperoned by a legal guardian. The Act became known as the "Art Porter Bill".

Porter was born in 1961 and studied at the Berklee School of Music and at the Virginia Commonwealth University. He became a protege of the pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis and, after moving to Chicago in the mid-Eighties, undertook further studies with the tenor saxophonist Von Freeman.

The less academic side of his career was conducted at a more empirical level. He worked in the widely contrasting musical environments provided by Jack McDuff's earthy, organ-led combo and the exotic Pharaoh Sanders unit as it progressed the John Coltrane message.

Porter's initial influence had been Charlie Parker and his bebop-based style proved a useful tool in most of the situations in which he found himself. His interest in Coltrane had grown during his involvement with Sanders but he had avoided the fierce extremes into which this might have led him. He was a believer in communication and he wanted his music to have a wider audience. He shunned the repertory, hard bop of the neo-classical jazz movement and was happy to introduce funkier, rhythmic ingredients into his well-heated musical pot.

On the tour circuit in the Nineties, he demonstrated his penetrating sound and an improvisational style that was more concerned with modest variation than in-depth musical analysis. The success of this policy was endorsed by an audience response that suggested that he was correct in calling most heavily on his experience with the organ groups and on his own liking for R&B.

At the time of his death, Porter could have been in Europe. A trip, including a week at Ronnie Scott's Club in London, had been proposed but his record company had influenced him to go to Bangkok for the 1996 Thailand International Jazz Festival. He was drowned in an accident when his boat capsized on a reservoir in western Thailand.

Barry McRae

Art Porter, saxophonist: born 1961; married (two sons); died Kratha Taek, Thailand 23 November 1996.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London