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Clyde Criner (1952-1991)

Major at Williams: Psychology


Clyde Criner III was a composer, keyboardist, educator, and bandleader.  He was a complete musician who moved with ease and precision among the realms of jazz, classical, popular and ethnic music.  He was a master of time and space; a Renaissance person poised to take his rightful place at the forefront of contemporary music, until fate intervened.


His first album, in 1985, was the solo-recital New England (Vanguard Records), on which one can hear his life-long passion for the evolving synthesizers.  


That November, we had the thrill of seeing his debut at Carnegie Hall Recital, also featuring the Boys Choir of Harlem and Koichi Aiba.


He recorded two albums for Novus/RCA Records, Behind the Sun (1988) and The Color of Dark (1989).  Some of the special guests appearing with Clyde on those albums, and in live performances, include Carlos Santana, Omar Hakim, Marcus Miller, Reggie Washington, Rodney Holmes and Victor Bailey.


He was also in great demand to play keyboards on albums by other artists, including Archie Shepp, Avery Sharpe, Chico Freeman and Alphonso Johnson, among others.  He toured the world, and played with the likes of Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, Wynton Marsalis and Bobby McFerrin.


Equally lasting are his accomplishments as as educator; his many students continue to cite him as a profound influence.  After graduation from Williams, he received a Masters from New England Conservatory, followed by a Ph.D in Urban Education from UMass-Amherst; his dissertation, "Black Music for Urban Education," is a seminal work. He was revered as a teacher at UMass-Amherst, LIU, Pace, Williams and Bennington.  At Williams, he designed and taught the first course in African-American music.

YouTube: Clyde Criner Tribute

A series of videos created by Clyde's roommates at Williams, created to honor and remember him and educate new generations about this remarkable person.



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