Parran, J(ohn) D(avis)
- Gary W. Kennedy
(b St. Louis, Dec 16, 1947). Clarinetist and educator. As a child he sang in his church choir. His father was a saxophonist, and at around the age of 11 Parran took up the tenor instrument; later he studied saxophone and clarinet at Washington University and Webster College. In the late 1960s he was a founding member of the Black Artists Group and worked in the Human Arts Ensemble. In 1971, after gaining a masters degree in music, he moved to New York, where he joined the big bands of Frank Foster and the arranger James Jabbo Ware and worked extensively as a freelance studio musician; during the same period he received some tuition from George Coleman. Back in St. Louis he recorded two albums with the Human Arts Ensemble (1972–3). Following studies in Africa, Parran settled again in St. Louis (1974) and joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University (located across the river from St. Louis, in Edwardsville, Illinois); he sang in and directed the university’s gospel choir, collaborated with local poets and comedians, formed a trio with the electronic music composer Thomas Hamilton and the classical percussionist Rich O’Donnell, and founded, with the trumpeter Floyd LeFlore, the group Third Circuit ’n’ Spirit, which merged bop, funk, electronic music, and free jazz. In the late 1970s he recorded as a leader (...