T. K. Blue

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T. K. Blue
Birth nameEugene Rhynie
Also known asTalib Kibwe
Born (1953-02-07) February 7, 1953 (age 66)
OriginNew York City
musical director
Instrumentssaxophone, flute
Years active1977–present
LabelsMotéma Music
Associated actsDollar Brand
Randy Weston

T. K. Blue (also known as Talib Kibwe, born Eugene Rhynie, February 7, 1953)[1][2][3] is an American jazz saxophonist, flautist, and educator from New York City. His parents were Jamaican and Trinidadian, and he has used their Afro-Caribbean musical styles in his own work, he has worked with, among others, Don Cherry, Jayne Cortez, the South African pianist Dollar Brand (now Abdullah Ibrahim), and Randy Weston, for whom he was musical director. He has also taught at professorial level at of jazz studies at educational institutions including Suffolk Community College, Montclair State University, and Long Island University.


He was born in the Bronx, NY, to a Trinidadian mother and Jamaican father, and grew up on Long Island, NY.[2] T.K. Blue began his life in music from his Lakeview hometown by playing trumpet from the ages of eight to 10, and then switching to drums for a year. After a hiatus, at the age of 17 he dedicated himself to music by learning flute. While attending New York University between 1971 and 1975 with a double major in Music and Psychology,[4] Blue threw himself headlong into music, concentrating on the saxophone.

During these undergraduate years, he lived in the East Village, partaking in the full range of the scene, from lessons with elders to deep involvement in the avant-garde, he participated in the Jazzmobile program, studying jazz theory, harmony, sight-reading, rhythmic training, improvisation and big-band performance, with Jimmy Heath, Chris Woods, Sonny Red, Frank Foster, Jimmy Owens, Ernie Wilkins, Thad Jones and Billy Taylor.[5] At Jazz Interactions, Blue studied with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and Joe Newman, and at the Henry Street Settlement with Billy Mitchell and bassist Paul West.[5] In 1979 Blue received his Master's in Music Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.[5]

After performing and traveling extensively with Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) from 1977 to 1980 – variously billed during this period as Talib Qadr, Talib Qadir Kibwe and Talib Abdul Kadr[6][7][8] – Blue moved to Paris in December 1981, remaining there until 1989. In 1986 he recorded Egyptian Oasis, his first record as a leader, and that sparked a number of State Department tours to some 20 countries in Africa.

Back in the USA since 1990, he has worked constantly, in a wide range of styles and situations, and recorded his second CD, Introducing Talib Kibwe, released on Evidence in 1996, his more recent recordings as leader include 2008's Follow the North Star, a suite inspired by the life of Solomon Northup (commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts), Latin Bird (2011), and in 2014 A Warm Embrace,[9] about which Don Bilawsky on All About Jazz has written: "Blue's skills as an arranger, perhaps more than anything else, are responsible for the success of this project, as he's able to create beauty from simplicity at times.... A Warm Embrace is simply a beautiful work of art."[10]

Augmenting his long-term relationships as musical director with pianist Randy Weston[4] and with the Spirit of Life Ensemble, Blue's recent affiliations include: Odadaa, a group led by a drummer from Ghana, Yacub Addy; percussionist Norman Hedman's pan-African band Tropique; tap dancer Joseph's Tap and Rap, to jazz tunes by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane; and emerging singer Jeffrey Smith.

T.K. was part of the June 2008 photo session called "A Great Day In Paris" — in homage to Art Kane's historic 1958 photograph A Great Day in Harlem — that featured more than 50 musicians from the USA who resided there.[11]

For several years an adjunct professor at Suffolk Community College and Montclair State University, Blue was also a full-time professor and director of jazz studies at Long Island University-LIU-Post.[12][13]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Jimmy Scott

  • All Of Me: Live In Tokyo (2004)

With Benny Powell

  • The Gift Of Love (2003)
  • Why Don’t You Say Yes Sometime (1991)

With Jayne Cortez and The Firespitters

  • Borders Of Disorderly Time (2003)
  • Taking The Blues Back Home (1996)
  • Cheerful And Optimistic (1995)

With Randy Weston

With Arkadia Jazz All-Stars

  • Thank You, Duke! Our Tribute To Duke Ellington (1998)

With The Spirit of Life Ensemble

  • 25 Twenty-Five (2000)
  • Collage (1998)
  • Live At The Pori Jazz Festival (1996)
  • Feel The Spirit (1994)
  • Inspiration (1992)

With Sam Rivers

With Abdullah Ibrahim

  • South African Liberation Songs (1979)
  • African Tears and Laughter (1977)
  • The Journey (1977)


  1. ^ Jenkins, Willard, "T.K. Blue", JazzTimes, December 1999.
  2. ^ a b TK Blue Artist Profile, Motéma Music.
  3. ^ Feather, Leonard, and Ira Gitler, "Kibwe, Talib aka T. K. Blue (Eugene Ludovic Rhynie)", The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Kelsey, Chris. "T.K. Blue: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c "Biography", T.K. Blue website.
  6. ^ "Talib Qadr" at Discogs.
  7. ^ "Abdullah Ibrahim – Africa: Tears and Laughter" Credits, AllMusic.
  8. ^ Palmer, Robert, "Jazz: Abdullah Ibrahim and Band", The New York Times, June 4, 1979.
  9. ^ T.K. Blue talks about A Warm Embrace on YouTube, Jazz Legacy Films.
  10. ^ Bilawsky, Dan, "T.K. Blue: A Warm Embrace (2014)", All About Jazz, December 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "A Great Day in Paris - Trailer" on YouTube.
  12. ^ "Biography", T.K.Blue.
  13. ^ "T. K. Blue - Director, Jazz Studies; Director, C.W. Post Jazz Ensemble", Department of Music, Long Island University.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Discography, T.K.Blue.
  15. ^ "T.K. Blue CD Release LATINBIRD", YouTube.

External links[edit]