Clifford Thornton was an American free jazz trumpeter and trombonist. Born in Philadelphia in 1936, he studied with trumpeter Donald Byrd in the mid-1950s and worked with various players such as tuba player Ray Draper. After a stint in the army, Thornton moved to New York City. He played with numerous avant-garde jazz bands, appearing as a sideman on records by notable artists such as Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers and Sunny Murray. His first album, 1967's Freedom & Unity, was recorded the day after John Coltrane's funeral, and marked the first recorded appearance of Joe McPhee. Possessing radical political leanings, Thornton was denied entry into France in 1970. Thornton spent the last 15 years of his life in Europe, and died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989. Although little known today, several of his albums have been reissued on CD.