John Gilmore's decision to play almost exclusively within the realm of Sun Ra's Arkestra long frustrated jazz observers who felt that he could have made a bigger impact if he had had a solo career. Gilmore grew up in Chicago and after a stint in the Army (1948-1952), he worked with Earl Hines (1952). In 1953, he joined Ra and 40 years later, when the bandleader died, Gilmore was still there. His playing in the 1950s was an influence on the developing John Coltrane and Gilmore, who teamed up with Clifford Jordan for a 1957 Blue Note session, did spend 1964-1965 with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. However, other than a few sideman recordings in the 1960s (including with Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, and Pete LaRoca), Gilmore stuck with Ra, being well-featured both on hard bop and free-form material. He briefly headed the Arkestra after Ra's death. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi

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