• Biography

Odean Pope (1935-2020) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and began playing the saxophone at the age of nine. He studied music at the Granoff School of Music and the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music.

Early Career

Pope began his professional career in the 1950s, playing with local jazz groups in Philadelphia. He was a member of the Max Roach Quintet from 1959 to 1962, and then joined the Cecil Taylor Unit in 1964. He also performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Jimmy Smith Trio, and the Jimmy McGriff Quartet. In the 1970s, Pope formed his own group, the Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, which featured up to nine saxophonists. The group released several albums and toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.


Pope collaborated with a variety of musicians throughout his career, including McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner. He also worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra. He was a featured soloist on the Grammy-nominated album, "The Philadelphia Experiment," which was released in 1984.


Pope was a highly respected musician and composer, and his influence can be heard in the work of many contemporary jazz musicians. He was a mentor to many young musicians, and his compositions have been performed by a variety of ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra. He was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame in 2004.

Pope passed away in 2020 at the age of 85. He left behind a legacy of music that will continue to inspire generations of jazz musicians.

Date modified: Apr 8, 2023
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