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Finding Aid for the Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection 1960-2002
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1960-2002
    Collection number: 237
    Creator: Tapscott, Horace
    Repository: 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Horace Tapscott Jazz Collection, 237, Performing Arts Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Acquisition Information

    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 years.
    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

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Tapscott, Horace--Archives
    Composers--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
    Jazz musicians--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources