“…his instrumental voice is so personal, clear, and incisive that I kept playing back his solos for the sheer pleasure of such fresh sounds of surprise"
T.K. Blue is a musician of the highest caliber who is at the peak of his creative output. His artistry is found on over seventy recordings and has performed with a long list of great international artists.
T.K. graduated with a B.A. in Music and Psych. from New York Univ. and a Master’s in Music Ed. at Columbia Univ. He is now the Director of Jazz Studies at Long Island University-LIU-Post Campus directing the big band, jazz combos, teaching music theory and jazz improvisation, Jazz History, the History of Rock, World Music, and private students.
At NYU, he studied with saxophonist-composer Jimmy Giuffre, whose emphasis on having a beautiful tone and playing melodically would became hallmarks of Blue’s mature style. He took advantage of free jazz classes offered around New York City by the organizations Jazzmobile, Henry Street Settlement, The Muse, and Jazz Interactions. His teachers at those programs included Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Ernie Wilkins, Paul West, Billy Mitchell, Reggie Workman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Yusef Lateef.
Gigging around NYC in the mid-Seventies with the Natives, a group led by South African pianist Ndikho Xaba, he met Abdullah Ibrahim, then known as Dollar Brand. Joining the exiled South African pianist’s band in 1977, he spent three years touring the world with Ibrahim, with whom he recorded three albums.
Since 1980, Blue has been a member of Randy Weston’s band and currently serves as its musical director. “I’m indebted to him tremendously,” Blue says of the pianist. “He showed me a lot of things about life and how to be a man and also how to seek my heritage and find out about Africa.” Blue spent much of the 1980s living in Paris and continued performing with Weston, also a resident of France.
In Paris T.K. played with musicians from throughout Africa, Brazil, Martinique, and Guadeloupe making his first album there in 1986. Titled Egyptian Oasis, the disc came to the attention of the US Information Agency in France and led to three State Department-sponsored tours of Africa for Blue and his band.
Since returning home to New York in 1990, Blue has continued performing and recording with his own groups and with Weston and has worked with such diverse artists as vocalists Jeffrey Smith, Bobby McFerrin (North Sea Jazz Festival), and Jimmy Scott; Pharoah Sanders and Dizzy Gillespie (Spirit of Our Ancestors recording); trombonist Benny Powell, poet Jayne Cortez, tap dancer Joseph Webb (Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk), Ghanaian drummer Yacub Addy’s Odadaa, and Afro-Caribbean percussionist Norman Hedman’s Tropique, among numerous others.