Elmo Hope

June 27, 1923 – May 19, 1967

Instrument piano
Birthplace New York, NY

Available Leadsheets

An imaginative pianist who valued subtlety over virtuosity in the landscape of bebop, Elmo Hope never achieved the fame that his close friends did, perhaps because he so rejected stylistic norms of the time. Elmo was a classically trained pianist with technique rivaling that of his childhood friend Bud Powell and a composer of music whose inventiveness and complexity approaches that of Thelonious Monk. In fact, Elmo, Thelonious and Bud used to hang out so much together in the late 1940s they became known as "The Three Musketeers." Powell, in Francis Paudras' book "Dance of the Infidels" is quoted as saying, "You gotta hear Elmo. He's fabulous. His stuff is very hard. He does some things that even I have trouble playing."

Hope recorded several albums as a leader with sidemen including John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Blue Mitchell, Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath. His compositions have been recorded by Lou Donaldson, Clifford Brown (Elmo made his first jazz record date as a pianist with Brown and Donaldson, and he brought three original compositions to the date), Harold Land, Curtis Counce, Bertha Hope, Art Blakey, Charlie Rouse, James Spaulding, T.S. Monk, Ralph Moore and others.

In 2016, the Bronx, NY, street where Elmo grew up was co-named ELMO HOPE WAY in his honor.