Scope and Content
Title: Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1960-2002
Collection number: 237
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.
Performing Arts Special Collections
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Abstract: The collection consists of sound recordings, musical
compositions and arrangements of Horace Tapscott and other composers, and the
performances of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Union of God's
Musicians and Artists Ascension. The collection is in the midst of being
processed, and updates will be made to this finding aid periodically.
[Identification of item], Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection, 237, Performing Arts Special Collections, University of California,
Gift; Cecilia Tapscott; 2003.
Horace Elva Tapscott (b. Houston, 6 April 1934; d. Los Angeles, 27 Feb 1999)
began piano studies at the age of six with his mother, the pianist Mary Lou
Malone, and took up trombone two years later. His family moved to Los Angeles in
1943 and he studied trombone in school, playing with Frank Morgan in a
high-school band; other young associates from this period included Don Cherry
and Billy Higgins. Tapscott worked with Gerald Wilson's orchestra before
graduating from Jefferson High School in 1952. After studying briefly at Los
Angeles City College he enlisted in the air force, and served in a band in
Wyoming (1953-7). He then returned to Los Angeles and worked with various local
bands before touring as a trombonist with Lionel Hampton (1959 to early 1961),
for whom he also wrote a number of arrangements and at times sat in on piano. By
the early 1960s he was playing piano exclusively, in part because of persistent
dental problems resulting from an automobile accident during his high-school
By the end of 1961 Tapscott had formed the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra,
which at various times included Arthur Blythe, Stanley Crouch, Azar Lawrence,
Marcus McLaurine, Roberto Miranda, the brothers Butch and Wilber Morris, David
Murray, the saxophonist Michael Session, Sonship Theus, and Jimmy Woods. The
purpose of the Arkestra was to preserve, develop, and perform African-American
music within the community. Its rapid growth and branching off into related
social and artistic activities led to the formation in 1963 of a larger
organization, the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), of which the Pan
Afrikan Peoples Arkestra was a component. By the late 1960s the organization's
continued evolution led to broader community involvement, symbolized by a change
of name to the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA). Although
activities had tapered off by the mid-1980s, both the Arkestra and UGMAA
continued to play a role in their community in the 1990s.
Between the late 1950s and early 1970s Tapscott recorded with Lou Blackburn
(1963) and Onzy Matthews (1963, accompanying Lou Rawls), arranged and conducted
the music for two albums for the singer (and, later, Black Panther Party leader)
Elaine Brown, and composed and conducted the material for Sonny Criss's album
Sonny's Dream (Birth of the New Cool) (1968, Prst. 7576); his first album as a
leader was made one year later. From 1978 through the mid-1980s he recorded for
Interplay and Nimbus, two labels formed by enthusiasts for Tapscott's music. He
recorded with the Arkestra, as an unaccompanied soloist, in a duo with the
drummer Everett Brown, with his trio (notably a session in performance at the
Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, California), and as the leader of a sextet. In
the 1990s he became increasingly busy with writing and international touring.
His commissioned composition Two Shades of Soul was the centerpiece of the 17th
annual Asian-American Jazz Festival in San Francisco in 1998. With S. Isoardi,
he wrote his autobiography, Songs of the Unsung: the Musical and Social Journey
of Horace Tapscott. His date of death appeared in some obituaries as 28 February
1999; he actually died on the 27th, at ten minutes before midnight.
Scope and Content
The Tapscott Archive includes both sound recordings and musical manuscripts
documenting the life and work of Horace Tapscott, and the music of the Pan
Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (P.A.P.A.) and the Union of God's Musicians and Artists
Ascension (UGMAA). The recordings include radio interviews, airchecks, concert
tours, rehearsals, club dats, studio recording sessions, and performances at
educational and other locations with PAPA, UGMAA and Tapscott's various small
jazz groups. The music collection includes original compositions and
arrangements by Tapscott, and arrangements for other composers.
Note: The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (P.A.P.A.) is also referred to as "The
ARK;" to find these materials use: "Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra."
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Sound Recordings
- Series 2. Videotapes and Films
- Series 3. Music Manuscripts
- Series 4. Miscellaneous
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.