Arthur Blythe (born May 7, 1940, in Los Angeles, California)
is an American jazz alto saxophonist and composer. His
stylistic voice has a distinct vibrato and he plays within
the post-bop subgenre of jazz.
Blythe lived in San Diego, California, returning to Los
Angeles when he was 19 years old.
He took up the alto saxophone at the age of nine playing R&B
until his mid-teens when he discovered jazz.
He studied with David Jackson and Jimmie Lunceford, and
Kirtland (Kirk) Bradford.
In the mid-60’s he was part of The Underground Musicians and
Artists Association (UGMAA), west coast counterpart to
Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative
Musicians (AACM) founded by Horace Tapscott, on whose 1969
The Giant Is Awakened, Blythe made his recording debut.
After moving to New York in the mid-70s, he worked as a
security guard before being offered a place as sideman for
He subsequently played with, Gil Evans Orchestra (76-78),
Lester Bowie (78), Jack DeJohnette (79) and McCoy Tyner
Blythe started to record as a leader in 1977 for the India
Navigation label and then for Columbia records from 1978 to
Albums such as The Grip and Metamorphosis (both on India
Navigation) offered capable, highly refined jazz fare with a
free angle that made Blythe too out there for the general
public, but endeared him to the more serious jazz fans.
Blythe played on many pivotal albums of the 1980s, among
them Jack DeJohnette’s Jack DeJohnettes Special Edition, on
Blythe was a member of the all-star jazz group The Leaders
and, after the departure of Julius Hemphill, he joined the
World Saxophone Quartet.
Beginning in 2000 he made recordings on the Savant label
which included Exhale (2003) with John Hicks (piano), Bob
Stewart (tuba), and Cecil Brooks III (drums).