John Martin Tchicai (born April 28, 1936) is a Danish jazz saxophonist. He was one of the earliest European free jazz musicians. He is of Danish and Congolese descent.
Tchicai studied violin in his youth, and in his mid-teens began playing clarinet and alto saxophone, focusing on the latter. By the late 1950s he was travelling around northern Europe, playing with many musicians.
After moving to New York City in 1963, Tchicai fell into the free jazz scene, co-forming the New York Contemporary Five and the New York Art Quartet, and playing on John Coltrane's epochal Ascension, and with Albert Ayler and others on New York Eye and Ear Control.
He returned to Denmark in 1966, and shortly thereafter focused most of his time on music education.
On Aug 30, 1975 his appearance at the Willisau Jazz Festival was recorded and released later that year as Willi The Pig. On this record, he plays with Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer.
Tchicai returned to a regular gigging and recording schedule in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s he switched to the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. In 1990 he was awarded a lifetime grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture. Tchicai and his wife relocated to Davis, CA (near San Francisco) in 1991, where he has led several ensembles. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1997. He is a member of Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith's "Yo Miles" band, a loose aggregation of musicians exploring Miles Davis's post-Bitches Brew electric music.
Since 2001 he has been living near Perpignan in southern France. He is currently (2006) experimenting with electronic components in his music.
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"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art." - CHARLIE PARKER