Sam Most, One of Our Own, is Gone
Sam Most, pioneer of jazz flute and woodwinds, and a player on several albums in our catalogue, passed away recently at 82. More than a a jazz icon, Sam was one of nicest of people; we just loved it when he was around. Here are some thoughts from the players in the Paul Gormley Quartet in which Sam was prominently featured.
Sam Most our esteemed woodwind player, unique vocalist and friend passed away on June 13, 2013 at the age of 82. I first met Sam in Las Vegas around 1973. I became the bass player with a really hot sextet led by trumpeter Carl Saunders, Sam was the tenor sax/flute player. I realized very quickly that Sam was a special musician. His improvisations and groove were all very original. He had his own sound and conception. These qualities are highly regarded by jazz musicians. Later we worked with the Desert Inn Hotel Orchestra playing for acts such as Juliet Prowse, Frankie Laine, Debbie Reynolds, and others. By 1976, I was tired of playing shows and made the decision to relocate to Los Angeles, finally making the move in 1977. Sam also moved to LA around this time, for the same reason.
From 1977 till his passing we worked many gigs. We often worked as a guitar, flute, bass trio, with Larry Koonse or Barry Zweig on guitar. This combination had many magical moments, which gave me the idea for the quartet format for my first CD as leader. Adding drummer Paul Kreibich made the group complete. We had so much fun playing together. Great chemistry. Sam hadn't been recording much, so this was an opportunity to feature Sam's unique talent. We got a lot of radio play on our three CD's. His contributions helped bring me success as a leader, and reinvigorate Sam's career. The proverbial Win- Win. I owe a lot to Sam for his contributions to my projects, he really helped put me on the jazz map. Many musicians bought our CD's, with a common comment " It's so good to hear Sam Most again", or "Thank you for recording Sam Most. He plays great, he should be heard more".
Sam always brought a positive and happy attitude to his music, and I think to his personal life. He never seemed down or unhappy. He did keep his personal life personal. He didn't talk about himself much. He was always generous with his knowledge of music. Everybody liked Sam. Having Sam on any gig would always make it better! Thank you Sam for all the great music and hangs. You will be missed and never forgotten.
Sam Most was a one of a kind original. He was a musician's musician who played at such a high level that he inspired those around him. I had the honor and pleasure to work with Sam as a drummer. The first time I played with him I remember being in awe of his musicianship. Later when we recorded the CD's with the Paul Gormley Quartet, Sam blew me away again. Every solo he played was a masterful take. Sam was a very humble man. This belied the fact that he practically invented jazz flute as we know it. So many musicians are in debt to him for his innovations.
As a person, Sam was sweet and always in a good mood. We took two trips to Thailand together with groups of musicians to play for the King, who is a musician and jazz fan. We had a great time playing and hanging out. Sam enjoyed life and always gave freely of his time and knowledge. Sam's books on improvisation are a great legacy and a rich opportunity for those learning the music. We'll miss Sam, but he gave us a lot to go on for the future.
Sam Most is one of the most natural improvisers I ever had the pleasure to play with. He could turn any sound whether it be a key click, the sound of air escaping his embouchure, or an attack that had just as much breath as pitch into the most musical expression. Having played on three quartet recordings with Sam I have to say I cannot recall one take in which Sam's melodic improvisation was less than spectacular. Every decision seemed to fit each musical environment to a tee. What an inspiration!
Just as importantly, Sam was one of the kindest human beings I have known. I never heard him speak ill of anybody or participate in any gossip. When I was a young musician at the beginning of my journey, he was always so encouraging and supportive. I will miss his humanity as much as his unique musical voice. Much love to you Sam.
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