Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Tenor Saxophonist, Dies at 77
By NATE CHINEN
Published: November 14, 2013
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, a saxophonist who was a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a pioneering Chicago avant-garde coalition, died on Saturday in the Bronx. He was 77.
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The cause was heart failure, his daughter, Deborah-Marcella Cohen, said.
Mr. McIntyre had an earthy, imploring sound on tenor sax, and could evoke the keen bluster of hard bop even as he pushed toward free-form abstraction. He also played flute, clarinet and percussion, and occasionally performed in face paint and tribal costume.
“At times, the music sounded like a West African procession,” Robert Palmer wrote of his playing in a 1976 New York Times concert review. “On tenor, Mr. McIntyre paced himself by alternating multinoted flurries with broad, stately melodies, and with phrases as old as the blues.”
Present at the association’s first meeting in 1965, Mr. McIntyre later articulated its objectives in an in-house newsletter, The New Regime. The priority, he wrote, was creative autonomy. But he also touched on sociopolitical issues: “We are trying to balance an unbalanced situation that is prevalent in this society.”
Maurice Benford McIntyre was born on March 24, 1936, in Clarksville, Ark., and raised in Chicago. His father was a pharmacist, his mother an English teacher. He studied music at Roosevelt University in Chicago until a drug habit derailed him, leading to a three-year stretch in prison, in Lexington, Ky., where he later said he got most of his musical education.
After returning to Chicago, he met the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and the saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, who were developing an aesthetic revolving around strictly original music. Mr. McIntyre became a fixture in Mr. Abrams’s Experimental Band and appeared on Mr. Mitchell’s 1966 album, “Sound,” the first release under the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians banner. Mr. McIntyre released his first album, “Humility in the Light of the Creator,” in 1969, the year that he adopted the name Kalaparusha Ahrah Difda, a confluence of terms from African, Indian and astrological sources. (He later modified it to Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre.) Like many of his fellow association musicians, he began performing in Europe.
He moved to New York in 1974 and spent a productive stretch at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock. But his career foundered in the ’80s and ’90s, and he took to busking — a practice he continued even after making several comeback albums, notably “Morning Song,” in 2004.
A documentary short made in 2010 by Danilo Parra showed him playing on subway platforms and preparing to record an album. He dedicated that album, as yet unreleased, to Antoinette Bell, his partner of more than 20 years, who survives him, along with his daughter and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.