Born in Rochester, New York, Joe Gallivan began his professional career in Miami at age 15 working in television and with a series of local bands including the Latin band of Eduardo Chavez and the big bands of Art Mooney and Charley Spivak, and, later, with trios accompanying well known singers and musicians including Dizzy Gillespie and Dakota Staton, as well as comedians including Lennie Bruce, Lord Buckley and Harry the Hipster. He studied music at University of Miami and with various private teachers including Bower Murphy.
Joe’s recording career began in Boston with Bob Freedman, Bill Berry and Don Vincent; the following year he recorded a single featuring Sonny Criss, and the year after with the Modern Jazz Orchestra with Kenny Drew on piano. This Miami recording was released in England and France and was re-released on CD in 2001.
In 1961, Joe moved to New York and co-lead with Donald Byrd an ensemble which included, at various times, Eric Dolphy, Don Ellis, John Coles, Eddie Bert, Jimmy Knepper, Pepper Adams, Herbie Hancock and Elvin Jones.
In 1962, Joe returned to Miami and worked as conductor of the television show “Music USA”. At this time he also began a collaboration with multi-reed player Charles Austin which has resulted in many albums, tours and festival appearances over three decades. Their music was praised by Igor Stravinsky, who wrote a letter of recommendation to CBS on their behalf. At the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, they played after Jimi Hendrix and before the Mothers of Invention.
In 1968, Joe also worked with N.R.B.Q. (the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) and organized A Train of Thought, the first all-electronic big band, for which Joe and Stan Goldstein built much of the equipment . The band was composed of legendary players that included Charles Austin, Ira Sullivan and Paul Cohen. At a second Miami Pop Festival, the band backed Chuck Berry and Marvin Gaye.
In 1969, Joe moved back to New York City, where, after eighteen months of freelancing, including creating five improvisational film scores for Warner Brothers, he was invited to join Larry Young’s ensemble, with whom he worked for nearly three years. Gil Evans heard Joe play at the Newport Jazz Festival with Elvin Jones and invited him to join his orchestra; Joe continued working in his band for over two years.
In 1976, Joe moved to Europe, where he toured and recorded in the ensemble Hopper, Dean, Tippet and Gallivan. In 1978 he recorded with Elton Dean and Kenny Wheeler and toured Japan with John Scofield, Miraslov Vitous and Kenny Kirkland.
From 1979 to 1983 Joe traveled a lot, working with Charles Austin in Europe, with Nicholas in Hawaii, with Butch Morris in Paris, appearing in numerous contemporary and electronic music concerts in France and in New York City.
In 1983, in Frankfurt, Joe began a series of recordings for Hessicher Rundfunk that included Albert Mangelsdorf, Heinz Sauer and Christoph Lauer. He also worked in a duo with guitarist John Schroeder.
In 1984, Joe settled in London and organized the avant-garde big band Soldiers of the Road, featuring Elton Dean, Evan Parker, Marcio Mattos, and, later, Ashley Slater, Paul Rutherford, Jim Dvorak, Claude Deppa, and Guy Barker. This ensemble recorded eight pieces for the BBC, performed often in London including at the London Jazz Festival, and, in 1992, made a critically acclaimed CD, Innocence. Joe also recorded prolifically for the BBC with numerous other ensembles, and traveled extensively, performing all over Europe.
In 1989, Joe began residing in Hawaii. He led a trio for five years at Pacific O’s in Lahaina, Maui, with pianist Brian Cuomo, and performed with the group Art Off The Wall at the Honolulu Museum of Contemporary Art in 1998, 1999,and 2001 with actor Jeff Gere and sculptor/instrument maker/woodwind player Steve Rosenthal. In Hawaii, Joe established his own record label, newjazz.com. The label’s first venture, Love Cry Want, a previously unreleased 1972 recording of the quartet Love Cry Want, (Joe Gallivan, Larry Young, Nicholas and Jimmy Molnieri) garnered international rave reviews and was chosen as one of 20 Essential Jazz and Improvisational CD’s of 1997 by The Wire, (Europe’s premier electronic and improvised music magazine, based in London) and one of seven Albums of the Year by the German music magazine Proteus. The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Fourth Edition (1999), devoted a section giving excellent reviews to three CDs by Joe Gallivan, as well as a separate section praising the group and CD Love Cry Want.
Joe made three well-received Hawaii recordings with Brian Cuomo – Night Vision (a duet), Origin of Man, a trio with Elton Dean which received the highest possible rating in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, and Surrender, a trio with San Francisco-based vocalist Jackie Ryan. In April 1999, Joe brought his trio with Brian Cuomo and Jackie Ryan to Ronnie Scott’s, Europe’s most famous jazz club, for a week, during which they played to standing room audiences every night. The trio returned to Ronnie Scott’s to play to a similarly packed room for two weeks in March, 2000, during which they recorded a live album on Ronnie Scott’s label, which was released at their third consecutive engagement, during the final two weeks of April, 2001.
In 1999, Joe was featured on two notable European CDs. Des Del Silenci, by Ektal Ensemble (Joe Gallivan, Marti Perramon, Benet Palet, Abdeljalil Koddsi, Robert Merryman, Moulay M’Hammed Ennoji) received extraordinary reviews in the Spanish press. The group performed at the Mercat Des Flors in Barcelona, at the 1999 Madrid Jazz Festival, and at the 2001 Festival Schnittpunkte Der Musik in Rudersdorf, Austria.
Electronic/Electric/Electronic, by the trio Powerfield (Joe Gallivan, Gary Smith and Pat Thomas), was included twice in less than one year in a compilation CD on the cover of The Wire (titled Wiretapper), prompting a three page interview with Joe to appear in the September 1999 issue of The Wire. In 1999, Electronic/Electric/Electronic was chosen as one of twenty Essential Recordings of the Year (for 1999) by The Wire. In 2000, the trio recorded a program for BBC Radio, and two members of the trio, Joe Gallivan and Gary Smith, released a self-titled CD that also was chosen as an Essential Recording of the Year (for 2000) by The Wire. Two more Powerfield CDs are awaiting release: a second Powerfield trio CD, and a larger ensemble CD, adding to the trio a quartet of electronically processed horns played by veterans of Soldiers of the Road, including Elton Dean, Claude Deppa, Guy Barker and Jim Dvorak.
On June 3, 2000, Joe’s group The Rainforest Initiative headlined at the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival on the Main Stage of the Knitting Factory in New York City with standing room only, and a standing ovation. The piece opened with an invocation by Hawaiian chanters Lei’ohu Ryder and Mahalani Poepoe over sounds of the rainforest, followed by a sextet featuring saxophonists Evan Parker, Elton Dean, Charles Austin and John McMinn, bassist Marcio Mattos, and Joe Gallivan on drums and percussion. A video of the New York performance has been playing on Black Entertainment Television Jazz Network since November, 2000. In October, 2000, Joe taught a class in communication in musical performance (why and how musicians communicate as they are playing) at the Knitting Factory, which was produced as a video for classrooms.
August 3 and 4, 2001, Joe performed with the Ektal Ensemble (Marti Perramon , percssion & coongas, Benet Palet, trumpet, Pat Thomas, keyboards, Abdeljalil Kodssi, vocals) at the 3 Laenderfestival in Austria.
May 25, 2002, Joe appeared at the Intersections of the Music Festival in Deutsch-Minihof, Austria. July 24, 2002 Joe performed with the eJam in the Viesen Jazz Festival, in Viesen, Austria. In the same month, Joe performed in a duo with DJ Orgasmus on a TV show originating from Vienna.
May 18, 2004, Joe Gallivan performed on Minimoog in duet with trumpeter Graham Haynes as part of the 50th Anniversary Concert for the Moog Synthesizer in New York City. They received a standing ovation.
August 2004, Joe played in a duo with upright bassist Paul Rogers in Austria at Festival Schnittpunkte. September 2004, Joe played drums and percussion with Rainforest 21, a trio also featuring Neyveli S. Radhakrishna on violin and Paul Rogers on seven string double bass.
October 2005, Joe toured Austria, Italy, Hungary and Slovenia with Rainforest 21, again with Paul Rogers,but this time with Anupriya Deotale on violin. .In the past few years Joe also has been working in the schools and colleges in Phoenix, Hawaii and now Los Angeles with his “the saxophone and me” project. both playing and teaching, offering alternatives to the status quo in music, often actually writing for and playing with school groups . Now there is LOVE CRY WANT & the RAINFOREST INITIATIVE.