ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in The Bronx and raised on Long Island, T.K. Blue began his life in music from his Lakeview, hometown by playing trumpet from ages 8 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, Blue threw himself headlong into music, concentrating on the saxophone. He took lessons (as part of the Jazzmobile program) with Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster and Ernie Wilkins, as well as from tenor legend Billy Mitchell. During these undergraduate years, T.K. lived in the East Village, partaking in the full range of the scene, from lessons with elders to deep involvement in the avant-garde. In 1979 Blue received his Master's in Music Education from Columbia University.
After performing and traveling extensively with Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) from 1977 to 1980, T.K. 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, T.K. 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 of The Arts), Latin Bird (2011), and in 2014 A Warm Embrace, about which Don Bilawsky on All About Jazzhas 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."
Augmenting his long-term relationships as Musical Director with pianist Randy Weston and with the Spirit of Life Ensemble, 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 historic June 2008 photo session called "A Great Day In Paris" (in homage to Art Kane's 1958 photograph A Great Day in Harlem) that featured more than 50 musicians from the USA who resided there.
For several years an adjunct professor at Suffolk Community College and Montclair State University, Blue is currently full-time professor and director of jazz studies at Long Island University-LIU-Post.