Elmo Hope

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St. Elmo Sylvester Hope (June 27, 1923 – May 19, 1967) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, chiefly in the bebop and hard bop genres. Hope's contemporaries included Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, and he grew up playing and listening to jazz and classical music with Powell. Hope survived being shot by police as a youth to become a New York-based pianist who recorded with several emerging stars in the mid-1950s, including trumpeter Clifford Brown, and saxophonists John Coltrane, Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean, and Sonny Rollins. A long-term heroin user, Hope had his license to perform in New York's clubs withdrawn after a drug conviction, so he moved to Los Angeles in 1957. He was not happy during his four years on the West Coast, but had some successful collaborations there, including with saxophonist Harold Land. More recordings as leader ensued following Hope's return to New York, but they did little to gain him more public or critical attention. Further drug and health problems reduced the frequency of his public performances, which ended a year before his death, at the age of 43. He remains little known, despite, or because of, the individuality of his playing and composing, which were complex and stressed subtlety and variation rather than the virtuosity predominant in bebop.