Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Malachi Favors Dies

Malachi Favors, a founding member of and bassist for the highly influential avant-garde jazz band the Chicago Art Ensemble, died Fri., Jan. 30 of pancreatic cancer at Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago. There is uncertainty over how old he was. Most jazz reference books list his birth year as 1937, but yesterday’s Chicago Tribune quotes his daughter, Malba Favors Allen, as saying he was born in 1927.

Another point of argument concerns Favors’ birthplace. It’s listed as Chicago in every book available in our office, yet yesterday’s Tribune states that Favors was “one of 10 children born to a religious family in Lexington, Miss.” Regardless of where and when he was actually born, everyone agrees that Favors was a virtuoso and a bassist who throughout his career maintained a sense of modesty with regard to his talent. He began playing bass at 15 and studied with hard-bop bassists Wilber Ware and Paul Chambers. After establishing himself on the Chicago scene and playing with trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard and pianists Andrew Hill and Muhal Richard Abrams, Favors joined Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell’s band and played on Mitchell’s landmark free-jazz album Sound from 1966. Not long after that, Mitchell’s band evolved into the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which in addition to Favors and Mitchell included trumpeter Lester Bowie, saxophonist Joseph Jarman and drummer Famadou Don Moye.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published