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Kirk Lightsey

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A pianist who is not a trendsetter but is consistently excellent, Kirk Lightsey long ago developed his own sound within the hard bop tradition. He started playing piano when he was five, although he also played clarinet while in high school. Lightsey worked in Detroit and California in the early '60s, often accompanying singers. He gained some attention in 1965 when he recorded with Sonny Stitt and was on five Prestige records with Chet Baker. However, Lightsey mostly had low-profile gigs until he toured with Dexter Gordon (1979-1983) and became part of the Leaders (starting in the late '80s). Kirk Lightsey has recorded with Jimmy Raney, Clifford Jordan, Woody Shaw, David Murray, and Harold Land, among others, and has led his own sessions for Criss Cross and Sunnyside, including piano duets with Harold Danko. He released the duo album, The Nights of Bradleys with bassist Rufus Reid on Sunnyside in 2004. ~ Scott Yanow

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15 February 1937 in Detroit, MI

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s