American Jazz guitarist who recorded with Ornette Coleman has died
Jazz guitarist Bern Nix has died, it was announced by friend and bandmate Matt Lavelle on Facebook. “It is with an absolute destroyed heart that I am here to tell you friends and family,” reads the post. “Rest In Peace Bern Nix.”
Nix was born in 1947 in Toledo, Ohio. He started playing the guitar as a child and later graduated with a degree in music from Berklee College of Music. Between 1975 and 1987, he played guitar in Ornette Coleman's Prime Time alongside fellow guitarist Charles Ellerbee. Ben Watson wrote in The Wire 79, “Since Bern Nix and Charles Ellerbee danced the harmolodic guitar into existence on Ornette Coleman's epochal Dancing In Your Head, there is a new type of jazz guitarist who goes beyond the conventional virtuosity of Scofield, Stern and Stevie Ray Vaughan”, with Barry Witherden and Tony Herrington (The Wire 181) describing Ellerbee and Nix’s lines as “entwining each other like rapturous serpents”.
While a member of Prime Time, Nix worked on Dancing In Your Head (1977), Of Human Feelings (1982), Opening The Caravan Of Dreams (1985), Virgin Beauty (1988) and others. In 1985 he formed The Bern Nix Trio, working with Fred Hopkins on bass and Newman Baker on drums, and later The Bern Nix Quartet, featuring Matt Lavelle on trumpet and alto clarinet, François Grillot on contrabass and Reggie Sylvester on drums.