Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Although sometimes called a "New Orleans clarinetist" (his Columbia album even billed him as a "Legendary Pioneer of Jazz"), in reality Alvin Batiste is an avant-garde player who does not fit easily into any classification. Under-recorded throughout his career, Batiste was a childhood friend of Ed Blackwell and he spent time in Los Angeles in 1956 playing with Ornette Coleman. However, Batiste chose the life of an educator in Louisiana. He did make some little-known records with the AFO ("all for one") quintet in New Orleans, popped up on a couple of Cannonball Adderley dates, and toured with Ray Charles in 1958, but was an obscure legend until he made three albums with Clarinet Summit in the 1980s (a quartet also including John Carter, David Murray, and Jimmy Hamilton). Batiste recorded an album, Bayou Magic, in 1988 as a leader for India Navigation and made the 1993 Columbia album Late. Songs, Words and Messages, Connections appeared in 1999, followed by Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste in 2007. He remained a very explorative (and under-recognized) player until his death in May 2007 of heart failure, just hours before he was set to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.