Nat Pierce

Nathaniel Pierce Blish Jr., known professionally as Nat Pierce (July 16, 1925 – June 10, 1992) was an American jazz pianist and prolific composer and arranger, perhaps best known for being pianist and arranger for the Woody Herman band from 1951 to 1955.[1] Pieces by Pierce were predominantly created for use in big bands.[2]

Nat Pierce
Dick Sheridan (left) and Nat Pierce in New York City, 1961
Dick Sheridan (left) and Nat Pierce in New York City, 1961
Background information
Birth nameNathaniel Pierce Blish, Jr.
Born(1925-07-16)July 16, 1925
Somerville, Massachusetts
United States
DiedJune 10, 1992(1992-06-10) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California
United States
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
LabelsRCA Victor, Concorde Jazz
Associated acts


Pierce was born in Somerville, Massachusetts. United States.[1] Following schooling at the New England Conservatory and working as an amateur musician in the Boston area, Pierce then led his own band which featured Charlie Mariano from 1949 to 1951. After working with Woody Herman from 1951 to 1966 as chief arranger and assistant road manager,[1] Pierce took residence in New York City and freelanced with musicians such as Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Emmett Berry and Ruby Braff.[1]

From 1957 to 1959, Pierce led a band off and on which featured Buck Clayton, Gus Johnson and Paul Quinichette. He recorded with a number of other well-known musicians as well, including Quincy Jones, Coleman Hawkins and Pee Wee Russell.[1] Pierce was noted for his ability to play piano in the Basie style and appeared on many releases by Basie sidemen. Pierce also arranged the music for The Sound of Jazz, a 1954 CBS television special hosted by John Crosby.[1] Together with Frank Capp he founded the Capp/Pierce Juggernaut Band in 1975, which performed in to the 1990s.[1]

Pierce died of complications from an abdominal infection in Los Angeles, California.[3]


As leaderEdit

As Nat Pierce and His Orchestra

  • Kansas City Memories (Coral, 1957[4])[5]
  • The Nat Pierce Orchestra – Big Band At The Savoy (RCA, 1958)[6]

With Frank Capp

  • Frank Capp & Nat Pierce: Juggernaut (Concord Jazz, 1976)
  • The Capp-Pierce Juggernaut: Live at the Century Plaza with Joe Williams (Concord Jazz, 1978)
  • The Frank Capp-Nat Pierce Orchestra: Juggernaut Strikes Again! with Ernie Andrews (Concord Jazz, 1982)
  • The Capp-Pierce Juggernaut: Live at the Alley Cat with Ernestine Anderson (Concord Jazz, 1987)

As sidemanEdit

With Louis Bellson

With Ruby Braff

With Benny Carter

With Al Cohn

With Freddie Green

With Coleman Hawkins

With Johnny Hodges

With Joe Newman

With Specs Powell

With Paul Quinichette

With Buddy Tate

With Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

As arrangerEdit

With Count Basie

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Woody Herman

With Quincy Jones


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 326/7. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  2. ^ ASCAP Biographical Dictionary (4th ed.), compiled by Jaques Cattell Press, R.R. Bowker (1980); OCLC 7065938
  3. ^ "Nat Pierce, 66, Dies; Leader of Jazz Band". The New York Times. 13 June 1992.
  4. ^ "Billboard Charts - February 9, 1957". 9 February 1957. p. 33.
  5. ^ "Nat Pierce And His Orchestra* - Kansas City Memories". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Nat Pierce Orchestra – Big Band At The Savoy". Retrieved December 13, 2019.

External linksEdit