b. 16 September 1940, Lovejoy, Illinois, USA. Bluiett was taught music by his aunt, who directed a choir, and began to play the clarinet at the age of nine. He later studied flute and baritone saxophone at Southern Illinois University, then spent several years in the navy. In the mid-60s he moved to St. Louis, where he studied with George Hudson and became part of a collective of black musicians, later to be called BAG (Black Artists Group). In 1969 he relocated to New York, where he worked with the Sam Rivers Large Ensemble, the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Big Band, Abdullah Ibrahim, Julius Hemphill, Charles Mingus and Don Pullen as well as soul artists Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. In December 1976 he helped to form the World Saxophone Quartet for a concert in New Orleans, and this has since become the most visible showcase for his arrangements and sterling baritone saxophone. In 1981, he recorded with Lester Bowie on the trumpeter’s The Great Pretender, adding hilarious, growling saxophone to the title track. Bluiett has also recorded an impressive series of albums as leader (featuring musicians such as Pullen, Fred Hopkins, Don Moye, Ed Cherry, Nasheet Waits, Jaribu Shahid, John Hicks and Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith), including a concert with his clarinet group, the Clarinet Family.
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