Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dave Pike - "A Superior, Self-Taught Vibist"

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“I always thought that Dave Pike was a real good player.”
- Milt Jackson, Downbeat

“The electrically amplified set of metal bars, first made popular in jazz by Lionel Hampton, is known by many names-vibraphone, vibraharp, vibes and bells are some of its appellations. Dave Pike has another name for his set. He calls it the "steam table',' a humorous title, but one that has accuracy. Adjectives like "steamin' and "cookin', etc. have been used to signify playing with heat, or, to put it even more basically, swinging. The best jazz vibists have always realized the percussive nature of their instrument and have never allowed it to become a purveyor of bland sounds. While Dave Pike is a steamer, he is not a steam fitter. He is a dancer and a singer.

Let me qualify this. Pike's physical approach to the vibes is very active. On up tempos he seems to be interpreting his own modern dance; on ballads his toe work is gracefully in a ballet bag. Of course, you can’t see this on a record, but you can hear another example of his complete involvement with his instrument in the singing with which he underlines his playing. This is common practice among many pianists and vibists, but in Dave's case it is perhaps more intense. Most importantly, you can hear his playing. Inspired more by Charlie Parker and Bud Powell than by other vibists, his conception is original and becoming more so all the time.
- Ira Gitler - Pike’s Peak [insert notes; emphasis, mine]

*** It's Time For Dave
Original Jazz Classics OJC 1951 Pike; Barry Harris (p); Reggie Workman (b); Billy Higgins (d). 1-2/61.

“A 1961 album declared It's Time For Dave Pike. It was and it wasn't. Pike's approach was both backward-looking, to the styles of Milt Jackson and Hamp, and also irretrievably time-locked, and though he returned to the States and to favour after an increasingly barren sojourn in Europe he's never quite recovered from the feeling that he's merely a bebop copyist on a lumpy and stiff-jointed instrument. Said album has finally returned via the OJC imprint and while it has its notable moments - the terse ballad It's Time the vintage bop bluster of Hot House - the record feels like it's going nowhere, which is what Pike did.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

Au contraire, over a 60 year career, Dave Pike went everywhere musically and geographically. He went where his music could take him to find work in concerts, clubs and on recordings. Dave was a musician who loved to perform. He was a working musician.

I usually don’t take exception to what other writers have to say about the music and its makers, but the Cook-Morton comment about Dave Pike “going nowhere” in their review of his Riverside recording It’s About Time really got to me.

So I set about to gather informed opinion about Dave that took an opposing position to Cook and Morton regarding Dave Pike’s qualities and abilities as a musician.

I disagree with their assessment of Dave’s music and style and so do many others including those Jazz musicians who have worked with him, Jazz authors and critics and discerning Jazz fans both in the USA and abroad.

Dave Pike was a bebopper down to his socks and proud of it and, as such, he was one bad cat who swung so hard he could throw you into next week.

Unlike Lionel Hampton who pounded the instrument to death, or Milt Jackson who played the same blues inflected riffs throughout his career or the cannonade of notes that Bobby Hutcherson unleashed on every tune, Dave thought about what he played and rarely repeated himself or employed rote licks or phrases.

I’ve tried to arrange the following materials in chronological order so as to give you the sense of the sweep of Dave’s career and the consistency of his creative drive.

If you really sit down and listen to Dave Pike, you’ll more than likely come to the same conclusion that I did: he is a distinctive, daring musician who deserves more appreciation for his singular abilities as a Jazz vibraphonist.

The subtitle of this piece on vibraphonist Dave Pike who passed away on recently is taken from Leonard Feather and Ira Gitler’s The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz.

There are very few references about Dave in the major tomes about Jazz and Jazz musicians.  Fortunately, Leonard got the opportunity to hear Dave in performance during Pike’s various stints in southern California and his respect and admiration for his abilities as a Jazz player grew with each listening.

Thankfully he also made it into The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz with the brief, retrospective of his career by Gary Theroux.

Pike, Dave [David Samuel] (b Detroit, 23 March 1938). Vibraphonist. He played drums from the age of eight and taught himself to play vibraphone; he was influenced from an early age by the work of Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton. After moving with his family to Los Angeles in 1953 he worked professionally from the following year and soon after played hard bop with Curtis Counce, Harold Land, Elmo Hope, and Dexter Gordon. He also worked for two years with Paul Bley (recording in 1958) and for a brief period led a quartet that played in the San Francisco area in 1959; by this time he had begun to play marimba in addition to his principal instrument. He moved in 1960 to New York and began to use amplification in his performances; from 1961 to 1965 he toured with Herbie Mann's group, as a member of which he played a repertory consisting largely of bossa nova. In 1968 he gave a performance at the Berliner Jazztage that was well-received. He remained in Europe and formed the Dave Pike Set, a quartet that included Volker Kriegel and J. A. Rettenbacher; this group performed at clubs and festivals during the next five years. Pike also recorded with the Clarke-Roland Big Band (1968). Later he returned to the USA and settled in southern California, where he formed a group that from the mid-1970s played regularly at Hungry Joe's Club in Huntington Beach.

One of the earliest extended articles about Dave is the one that Max Barker prepared for the Personally Speaking segment that appeared in Crescendo, October, 1963. I have transcribed it below from “The Story of British Jazz: the online National Jazz Archives.”

“Max Barker interviews that new star on  vibes

“Over the past year, I have interviewed some of the world’s top Jazz personalities.   In asking them to name new stars, the name of Dave Pike seems to have come up over and over again..  This is not so surprising, for he was voted top of this year’s Down Beat poll as New Star On Vibraphone, or to give it its correct title - Talent Deserving Of Wider Recognition.  appearance with the Herbie Mann Sextet and record albums are anything to go by.

Dave - originally from Detroit - went to Los Angeles when his family moved there in 1953. He worked for local bands, both American Jazz and Mexican combinations, and Rhythm and Blues groups. Then in 1960 he came to New York City.

“This is the ultimate testing ground, as it is in any art form,” Dave told me. “A lot of important things happen musically on the West Coast. There is a high degree of musicianship out there. However, it is a third or a fourth as competitive - which makes a great big difference.”

“There is more stimulation in a highly competitive area. I moved to New York because I feel that young musicians don’t progress as quickly on the west coast.

On his arrival in New York City, he was one of the first musicians to play Jazz in the coffee houses in and around Greenwich Village and is currently featured with the Herbie Mann Sextet as well as leading his own quintet with in the group.


"Musically speaking, the best experience gained from Herbie's group has been learning to play in widely varied styles. African music. Brazilian music. Hebrew music and Afro-Cuban combined with jazz.

"This is very important. I feel that music is becoming more international and one country is absorbing from another until music is becoming the main common denominator.

"With Herbie. I have learned a lot about the business side Herbie being such a master business man. The technique of being a band leader, its advantages and its disadvantages. It will be very helpful to me in the future. He has a very well-run band - great organization.”

Herbie Mann was, and, still is one of the main factors in the bossa nova fad [?] I asked Dave about this.

“Bossa Nova is more than a fad. It has developed into an integral part of American music which will always be here. A lot of musicians don’t grasp the subtlety of the music.

“Show business is becoming gaudy, increasingly so in order to attract the public. As the business grows more and more competitive each day, more successful acts, including Jazz groups, are by necessity becoming more spectacular. Some imaginative and creative musicians in order to obtain popularity must be showmen and present themselves visually, musically and intellectually.

New Audience

“Bossa Nova introduced many new people to Jazz. In fact, the greatest thing that is happening to Jazz is that more and more nightclubs are using two or three completely different types of music on their programs. Folk music, a classical instrumentalist, a Jazz group, etc. The people coming out to hear folk music are being introduced to different kinds of music. So this inter programing is extremely important.

Dave went on to talk about his records, the most recent of which featured bossa nova.

“Each one of my recordings has been entirely different. I made two albums with Riverside: It’s Time for Dave Pike with pianist Barry Harris and Pike’s Peak with Bill Evans. Then I did three LP’s with Prestige. The first was a bossa nova, using all original percussion instruments. The second was a calypso album on which on which I did a lot of marimba work combining Jazz and calypso. The was was music from the Broadway show Oliver, and this I feel is my best recording to date.

I had the opportunity here to be the first one to record the Jazz version of it. As soon as a show comes to New York and is a success many record companies begin working on Jazz versions.

“My wife got the score before it opened in New York and we were the first to record it. We actually recorded the album before the show opened. What I tried to do was to capture the emotionally strong content of the show, which then made it ideal for Jazz interpretation.

Why did Dave chose vibraharp as his Jazz vehicle and what future does he think it has in Jazz?

First of all, vibraharp began as a double for me on drums. I found that I could express myself more successfully on the instrument and dropped drums.


“I feel that the vibes are one of the most beautiful sounding instruments. Really, it has not been fully explored and is still developing. As a matter of fact, they are just beginning to learn how to record the instrument. This is very difficult. It must be picked up along the whole length of the instrument. You can’t have a center microphone as in the past - where the result has been that recordings sounded like tin cans and metal bottles.

The Deagan Company has just completed the first amplified vibraharp. Since volume has been a major drawback this development will further the popularity of the instrument. More drummers and horn players may have a desire to play it.

“However, the vibraphone happens to be a very paradoxical instrument. It’s one of the easiest instrument to approach. Anyone with a knowledge of the keyboard can play it. Yet it is one of the most difficult instruments to master. A person who is a mallet master can move into other areas of music from Jazz to classical to folk music. A good example of this is Jose Bethancourt from Guatemala.”

I asked Dave to name some example of good vibraphone recordings, and to say his piece on teaching techniques.

Correct Balance

“I would recommend most of the Modern Jazz Quartet records. They have been very preoccupied with balance and reproduction and therefore have successful recordings. They carry their own PA system, supervise their own recording sessions and place instruments where they balance out correctly.

“Briefly I feel that most of the teachers and most of the players approach the vibes with a rigid xylophone technique.

“Milt Jackson exemplifies a true vibraharp technique and was the first to produce the utmost sound. His sound cannot be produced with a xylophone approach.


“The instrument is very young and both teachers and students are becoming more and more aware of its potential. There are important difference in approach between xylophone and vibraharp. In order to obtain the most sound from a vibraharp, physical effort must be extended. With the vibraharp, you have more graduated possibilities of sound in each bar than with a xylophone. Many teachers concentrate on the percussion on the instrument but they don’t emphasize its tone development.

The vibraharp was conceived as a novelty instrument for effect and used for endings, etc. It wasn’t originally a solo instrument and Lionel Hampton was the first to make it popular in the 1930s.

However, I think Milt Jackson was the first musician to discover the instrument’s full musical value and warmth. He was the first to use a slower vibrato, which opened up a whole new wave of sound.”

Dave Pike’s future plans?

“Eventually I hope that there will be a demand for me to be a leader. At the moment, I am contentedly working with [flutist] Herbie Mann’s Sextet, but also doing interviews on radio, appearances as a leader on my own recordings and in general promoting my career.  I’m looking forward to leading my own groups in the future.

My wife is a very important part of my career. She has been in the recording business and in general is an excellent business woman. This make for a good balance between us.


I am also experimenting with an amplified marimba. I have become very interested in the marimba because I think it lends itself perfectly to Jazz music and my musical conception. There is no distortion in high-speed playing and fast runs record perfectly. It has an almost human sound. I am hoping to have the opportunity to play one of the first amplified marimbas. It is still in the prototype stage.

I make all my own mallets and I have been experimenting over the past ten years with almost every conceivable ready-made mallets and materials. I finally found the perfect combination for me of certain nylon yarns wrapped over certain hardnesses of mallet core.

Wood, nylon and cotton yarns all have different sounds as do the cores. There are also many different kinds of handles. I have tried metal, fiberglass and rosewood. Eventually I settled on bamboo.


I asked Dave to name his favorite contemporaries.

“Roland Kirk, who you really have to see to believe. I understand that he will be playing London soon and I’m sure that everyone will enjoy him. Freddie Hubbard, trumpet, Don Friedman, piano and Bobby Thomas, drums, both of whom are currently working with me in Herbie Mann’s group.”

In searching the internet, I located the following three reviews which Dave gave to Bill Kohlhaase [two] and Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times in which he offers some perspectives on what’s involved with maintaining and developing a career as a working Jazz musician.

Dave Pike Is Back, Still Sending Out Positive Vibes


FULLERTON — Vibraphonist Dave Pike's recent Orange County performances have been a homecoming of sorts. The Detroit-born musician, who spent parts of the '60s, '70s and '80s living in Europe, was a mid-'70s fixture at the now-defunct Hungry Joe's in Huntington Beach, where he appeared regularly with such musicians as pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Nick Martinis.
Pike resettled in Los Angeles in 1995 and has been playing such clubs as Chadney's in Burbank and Spaghettini in Seal Beach (with O.C. pianist Les Czimber). Friday night at Steamers, Pike fronted a trio consisting of bassist Putter Smith and guitarist Jon Pall Bjarnason.

Though the trio's first two sets had some uneven ensemble moments, the performance served to showcase Pike's strong, confident way with a song. He may not be as well-known as fellow vibraphonists Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson (both of whom influenced Pike), but here he proved their equal with an uninterrupted flow of improvisational ideas that came with drive and persistence.

It was the first meeting for Pike and Iceland-native Bjarnason, and the guitarist's accompaniment sometimes seemed at odds with the vibes. Pike, who likes to close each number with an extended, vibes-only passage, also had trouble getting his trio mates to stop their play or rejoin these efforts seamlessly. But aside from those rare instances, the opening sets were beautiful in sound and smart in their invention.

Vibraphonists, like drummers, are visually exciting musicians. Pike was on his toes for much of the performance, dancing from end to end of his instrument as his arms swirled and pounded. Sweeping gestures and dynamic swings across his body heightened this experience as his mallets often blurred with the speed of his play.

Pike's style isn't as bluesy as Jackson's or as swinging as Hampton's. Instead, it's a varied, modern approach that reflects his experience with hard-boppers from Curtis Counce and Dexter Gordon to such '60s experimentalists as pianist Paul Bley. His harmonies, especially when stating themes, resonated in surprising ways, and his solos frequently referenced other tunes as part of a rolling, narrative style.

These unexpected harmonies sometimes made for rocky moments with guitarist Bjarnason's accompaniment. But on his own, Bjarnason soloed with skill and content, stringing together long, lyrical lines that moved aggressively during up-tempo numbers, and with considered grace during ballads. His play on "Body and Soul" was delicate and moving, bringing new light to the often-illuminated standard.

Bassist Smith, recently a member of the string section that accompanied fellow-bassist Charlie Haden's Quartet West in a 10th anniversary concert, is an unruffled accompanist who, like Haden, provides the kind of alert, expansive support that allowed Pike to follow his whims.

Smith kept accurate, propulsive time without help of a drummer, and his solos held both long, surprising melodic lines and clever, briefly repeated riffs and circular figures.

The sets visited extremely familiar tunes: "On Green Dolphin St.," "All the Things You Are," and "Autumn Leaves" among them. Though they gave each traditional theme treatments, the three men played solos with rare personality.

The sound, especially good at this venue, gave Pike a strong, ringing vibrato with guitar and bass clearly audible through the sustained notes. Should he get an ongoing date and a consistent band, as he had at Hungry Joe's some 20 years ago, Pike seems capable of breaking new ground in the rare craft of the vibraphone.

Unstaged Melodies : A lack of jazz clubs in Orange County masks what some say is a big market for the genre.


“When vibraphonist Dave Pike moved from Europe to Orange County in 1973, he wanted a place where he could work with a band several nights a week, week in and week out. According to Pike, he couldn't even find a jazz club.
So he created one.

"There was this little bar that served bikers and surfers in Huntington Beach," says Pike, referring to Hungry Joe's. "I . . . told the owner what I wanted to do. He was skeptical, but he let me start playing."

Within a year, Pike was packing the place with a combo that included pianist Tom Ranier, guitarist Ron Eschete, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Ted Hawke. People were driving from Los Angeles to hear them.

Such stars as pianist Gene Harris, saxophonist Harold Land and vibraphonist Milt Jackson began filling in on the Pike band's day off. A scout from Muse Records heard Pike's group, which led to a record contract and four albums. Hungry Joe's was on the map.

After three years, Pike would move to a Newport Beach location, and not long after, Hungry Joe's burned to the ground. Still, for a while, it was the heart of the Orange County jazz scene.

Such is the often short, often sweet life of jazz clubs. Any number of jazz venues -- El Matador in Huntington Beach, Cafe Lido in Newport Beach, Mucho Gusto in Costa Mesa, Randell's in Santa Ana, Maxwell's by the Sea in Huntington Beach--have come and gone in the past two decades. Often new ones rise to take their place.

Yet these days, there's a dearth of jazz clubs in Orange County. Steamers Cafe in Fullerton is the only one seriously dedicated to the genre.

A number of restaurants, notably Restaurant Kikuya in Huntington Beach and Spaghettini in Seal Beach, do feature jazz and other types of music. The music at such places can be first rate, although often accompanied by the clatter of dinnerware and the chatter of patrons. All draw on the wealth of musical talent in Southern California.

Pike, a cult hero of the vibraphone who will travel to London this year to perform, has played them all.

"I don't care what the venue is," Pike asserts, "it's still a place to play, a place to be appreciated."

Jazz Review

Uncommon Pairing of Vibes, Sax Emphasizes Spontaneity

The vibes and the baritone saxophone are an unlikely jazz combination, the bell-like sounds of the former making for an odd blend with the deep, brawny muscularity of the latter. But jazz has always been receptive to improbable musical alliances, so the pairing of vibist Dave Pike and baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola at the Jazz Bakery this week promises, at the very least, some rare musical encounters.
In fact, as Brignola pointed out in Wednesday's opening set, the combination--for this pair--isn't all that unusual, since they first joined forces nearly 40 years ago. Despite the long musical friendship, however, their performance had the distinct quality of a jam session format.
The program was dominated by standards such as "Stella by Starlight," "All the Things You Are," "These Foolish Things" and familiar jazz lines such as "Au Privave"; and the interaction with bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Joe LaBarbera suggested sheer spontaneity rather than rehearsal.
No problem with jazz spontaneity, of course, and the rhythmic energy that underscores the work of both players was generally enough to move things along. But on the up tempos, the tendency to get into a fixed emotional mode--fleet and busy for Pike, hard-edged and aggressive for Brignola--tended to become a bit wearying. Both were more appealing on a more laid-back number such as "These Foolish Things," in which Brignola allowed the warmth of his tone and the sensitivity of his line to surface, and Pike's capacity to deliver subtle contrasts of tone and accent became more apparent.
Despite the occasional unevenness of the opening-night set, Brignola and Pike are players who deserve a hearing. Brignola is one of the strongest descendants of a line that reaches back through Pepper Adams and Serge Chaloff, and Pike bridges the swing of Milt Jackson with the timbral sensitivity of Gary Burton. They may not have found the perfect blend of vibes and baritone saxophone, but there's no denying their infinite capacity to swing.
* Nick Brignola featuring Dave Pike at the Jazz Bakery through Sunday. 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City. (310) 271-9039. $20 admission today and Saturday at 8 and 9:30 p.m., and Sunday at 7 and 8:30 p.m.
The following newspaper article about Dave which was written later in his career provides a more detailed retrospective of the highlights of Dave’s career and some interesting observations and comments by him as he looks back on 50 years of performing Jazz.

Pitt jazz seminar brings Dave Pike to city for first time

November 2, 2006 12:00 AM
By Nate Guidry
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert
Where: Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

“Vibraphonist Dave Pike has lived and performed all over the world. At this weekend's University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert, he'll reunite with Nathan Davis, with whom he played when they were both expatriates in Europe in the '60s.

Vibraphonist Dave Pike is still sleepy from an extended flight from Japan. His voice trails in and out of the telephone with the sound of someone who hasn't had much rest.

"I'm sorry," he says, from his home in Orange County, Calif. "I'm still trying to get myself together.

For the past month, Pike has been touring Japan, a country he first visited in the 1960s.

"Japan is awesome," said Pike. "I think Japan has surpassed Northern Europe when it comes to jazz appreciation. Northern Europe used to be the hottest area for jazz, far above America. Japan has surpassed Europe, even in the little towns. Fans lined up and had me sign some of my old albums. It was nice to be able to have that kind of appreciation. And the Japanese musicians have really improved over the past 20 years. They have become fluent in the language of jazz. They don't speak English, but we are on the same page musically."

Pike is hoping he'll have that same kind of appreciation in Pittsburgh when he performs during the 36th University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert. The longest-running event of its kind in the country, the Pitt program also features free lectures and demonstrations. Other musicians participating in this year's event are Pittsburgh native and guitarist Ron Affif, trumpeters Oscar Brashear and Jimmy Owen, drummer Winard Harper, bassist Abraham Laboriel, pianist Patrice Rushen, flautist Nester Torres and saxophonist Donald Harrison.

They'll perform under the direction of Dr. Nathan Davis, saxophonist and head of Pitt's Jazz Studies Program and founder of the annual event.

Pike has recorded more than 25 albums and has performed with everyone from Pittsburgh's Horace Parlan to Ornette Coleman.

"I have been all over the world, but I have never been to Pittsburgh," he said. "I haven't seen Nathan since the late 1960s when he was still in Paris. I lived in Europe for years, and I met Nathan then. It will be a reunion for us. We worked together with Kenny Clarke and Sahib Shihab. That was a wonderful band."

Pike was born in Detroit, but moved to Hollywood, Calif., at a young age. In 1956, at the age of 18, he released his first recording, "Gene Norman presents the Jazz Couriers."

Later, he explored his avant-garde side, performing with Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, Charles Lloyd and Ornette Coleman.

"I didn't feel comfortable in that vein," said Pike. "In 1955, I met Milt Jackson and that just changed things for me."

Jackson introduced Pike to bebop music.

"I started playing bebop over all rhythms," continued Pike. "I've had all kinds of bands and played all kinds of music, but I always came back to bebop."

In 1961, Pike began a five-year association with flautist Herbie Mann, performing on such recordings as "Family of Mann" and "Live at the Village Gate." During this time, Pike also recorded "Pike's Peak" and "Manhattan Latin, The Dave Pike Orchestra" with Chick Corea and Hubert Laws.

After leaving Mann, Pike joined the Elvin Jones Trio. He was also leading his own trio that featured Jaki Byard and Bobby Timmons at a New York club called the "Top of the Gate."

In the middle 1960s, Pike moved to Europe where he worked as a musician for the West German government.

"I traveled all around the world performing with my band," he said. "I got to see the world without having to be a tourist."

In the mid 1970s, Pike moved back to California and opened "Hungry Joe's," a jazz club. During this period, Pike also worked as a soloist in Nelson Riddle's Paramount Studio Orchestra. "I found a club that was about five minutes from my house on the beach, and I turned it into a jazz club. The place was packed every night."

After three years, Pike was lured back to New York where he was signed to Muse Records. He recorded several seminal recordings, including "On a Gentle Note" and "Time Out of Mine" featuring Kenny Burrell."

Then he moved to Belgium, where he lived above a club he owned. While there, he performed with Horace Parlan.

"Horace was a great inspiration for me," said Pike. "I had been in an accident where I severely fractured my wrist. Horace had polio as kid. Horace is a wonderful piano player. "

And so is Pike.

"Music is very structured," he said. "If you are serious, it takes a lifetime to master it. I'm just trying to keep this music alive until I can't. Lionel Hampton played the vibraphone until he couldn't stand up anymore."”

Dutch drummer, Eric Ineke, who had a long association with Dave during his frequent sojourns to and stays in Europe, offers a fitting closing tribute to him in this excerpt from his autobiography, Eric Ineke - The Ultimate Sideman [as told to Dave Liebman].


“The serious reader, having reached this part of the book, should know, that vibes are important in music in general, and essential in Jazz music. The Vibraphone, with its characteristic sound, blends marvelously with the other instruments, and - moreover - has vibes of its own.


'David Samuel Pike, the Master of the Vibes!' as [pianist] Rein de Graaff would announce him. I saw Dave Pike for the first time live in the Top of the Gate in New York in 1966. He played there together with Eddie Daniels and Don Friedman and then I had no idea that I would play with all of them years later.

I was introduced to him in 1968 when he lived in Holland for a short while; he was looking like a gunslinger wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. But it wasn't before April 1986 that I finally had a chance to play with him. He had had a car accident the day before and was a little bit stiff and somewhat unsure, which is quite normal when you just have survived such an accident. But it didn't take that long and he became the old Dave Pike again, super swinging and a real great Be-bop player. He is a very emotional player  … He likes me to play soft and everything with a solid beat. ...

As a person he is very sweet, he has a great sense of humour and he is a lively story teller. It will always be a big pleasure to play with the Master of the Vibes: David Samuel Pike.”


  1. I'm very late to the party here, but just wanted to thank you for this profile on Dave Pike. Hungry Joe's in Huntington Beach was a place we used to frequent, and Dave Pike's performances were everything you describe. One thing you left out: he used to vocalize as he was playing - mm-mmhm-mm - he was so into it. A wonderful memory for me.

  2. Excellent article on this wonderful and inspiring performer, and a great primer for anyone looking for an overview on Dave Pike. A minor note: Bobby Hutcherson was misnamed as “Hutchinson” earlier in the article.

    1. Thank you. The correction is in place regarding Bobby's last name.

  3. Thank you for sharing information on one of my all-time favorite musicians. I have always felt he has been wildly under-appreciated, but maybe that sealed my fate as a champion of his work - I always felt a huge “luckiness” when reflecting on his role in my music-listening - being “in” on something this special has its own rewards. Cheers!

  4. I saw Dave Pike at the White House in Laguna Beach in the late '70s. He played "Over the Rainbow" which he had dedicated to his young niece who was in the audience. Great performance.


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