The re-emergence of John Tchicai on the UK scene, including a gig with Springheel Jack at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival, was one of the great events of recent years, and until his death in October 2012 he was regularly packing out free jazz venues that normally struggle to attract three men and an inquisitive dog. Yet he'd never actually been away - it's just that his musical and geographical travels had sometimes made him hard to pin down. Born in Denmark in 1936, he took up alto sax and clarinet at the age of 16, and began a jazz career that took him to New York in 1962. There he appeared on some of the seminal recordings of free jazz, including Coltrane's ground-breaking 'Ascension', and works by his own New York Art Quartet. But in 1966 he returned to Denmark, and subsequently spent time on both sides of the Atlantic, including long periods concentrating more on teaching than performing. But every time he picked up his horn (with tenor sax eventually main instrument) it was clear that he had lost none of his creative imagination or spirit of adventure, and his performances at Jazz North East's 2009 'On the Outside' Festival are fondly remembered by everybody who heard them. Spending his last years in France, he continued to combine teaching and touring, and finally achieved the level of recognition that he so richly deserved.
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