Happy Birthday to Elmo Hope
Today we celebrate one of the more underappreciated jazz pianists, Elmo Hope. According to Wikipedia, he was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, chiefly in the bebop and hard bop genres. He grew up playing and listening to jazz and classical music with pianist Bud Powell and was a close friend of Thelonius Monk.
He was born St. Elmo Sylvester Hope on June 27, 1923. Hope survived being shot by police as a youth to become a New York-based musician. He recorded with several emerging stars in the mid-1950s, including Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins. A long-term heroin user, Hope had his license to perform in New York's clubs withdrawn after a drug conviction.
He made recordings as a band leader, but they did little to gain him more public or critical attention. Further drug and health problems reduced the frequency of his public performances, which ended a year before his death, at the age of 43. He remains little known, despite, or because of, the individuality of his playing and composing, which were complex and stressed subtlety and variation rather than the virtuosity predominant in bebop.
Here's Elmo playing Mo Is On: Elmo