Onaje Allan Gumbs  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Onaje Allan Gumbs (born Allan Bentley Gumbs, September 3, 1949 – April 6, 2020) was an American pianist, composer, and bandleader.


Early career

In 1971, Leroy Kirkland introduced Gumbs to the Detroit guitarist Kenny Burrell, to whom Onaje gave a demo tape. The following day, Gumbs received a call to play with Burrell at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit. This work led to further performances with major jazz musicians such as bassist Larry Ridley as well as The Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra. During those early 1970s, Gumbs replaced Nat Adderley, Jr. in a contemporary jazz ensemble called Natural Essence. At that time in the course of two years, some of the personnel of this group included drummer Buddy Williams, bassist Alex Blake, trombonist Earl McIntyre and on percussion, T. S. Monk.

Gumbs adopted the name Onaje in the early 1970s; it means "the sensitive one".

"His association with the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York and his work with the Litchfield Jazz Camp in New Milford, Conn., allowed him to expand his vision and shape young minds."

After 2010

On January 24, 2010, Gumbs suffered a stroke. Amazingly, he stayed in the hospital for only two days. By December of that same year, an album was released in Japan entitled Just Like Yesterday. On this CD Gumbs was accompanied by Omar Hakim, Victor Bailey, Marcus McLaurine, William S. Patterson and Chuggy Carter. Any visible signs of the stroke had since vanished.

In February 2015, he suffered another medical setback. Although he was hospitalized for two weeks, he recovered and was able to return to work doing what he does best, composing, arranging and playing piano.

Onaje Allan Gumbs died on 6 April, 2020, aged 70.


As leader

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1976 Onaje SteepleChase Solo piano
1980s Bloodlife: Solo Piano Improvisations Based on the Melodies of Ronald Shannon Jackson Ejano Music - 1988? That Special Part of Me Zebra
1989? Dare to Dream Zebra With Roger Byam (tenor sax), Jef Lee Johnson and Kevin Eubanks (guitar), Oscar Carataya (bass), Buddy Williams (drums), Steve Thornton (percussion), Gerri Griffin and Dennis Collins (vocals)
2000 Return to Form Half Note With Rene McLean (alto sax), Marcus McLaurine (bass), Payton Croslley (drums), Gary Fritz (percussion)
2004 Remember Their Innocence Ejano Music With Sadao Watanabe (alto sax)
2006 Sack Full of Dreams 18th & Vine With Mark Shim (tenor sax), Bob DeVos (guitar), Marcus McLaurine (bass), George Gray (drums), Gary Fritz (percussion), Obba Babatunde (vocals)
2010? Just Like Yesterday Pony Canyon

Main source:

As sideman

With Nat Adderley

With T. K. Blue

  • Follow the North Star (JaJa, 2008)

With Betty Carter

With Norman Connors

With Carlos Garnett

With Toninho Horta

With Ronald Shannon Jackson

With Bennie Maupin

With Cecil McBee

With Mark Mosley

  • TLC (Mark Mosley, 2012)

With Avery Sharpe

  • Running Man (JKNM, 2011)
  • Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman (JKNM, 2013)

With Woody Shaw

With John Stubblefield

With Charles Sullivan

With Lenny White

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Onaje Allan Gumbs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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