COPENHAGEN -- John Tchicai, Danish saxophonist and pioneer of free jazz in Europe, has died. He was 76.

His former wife, Margriet Naber, said Monday that he died in the hospital earlier that day.

No cause of death was given, but Tchicai had been in a coma since suffering a brain hemorrhage in June.

Tchicai moved to New York in 1963 and co-founded the New York Contemporary Five with Archie Shepp. He later became a leading figure of the jazz avant-garde movement in Europe.

He also played with John Coltrane, Milford Graves, Carla Bley and Steve Swallow.

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Tchicai was born to a Danish mother and a Congolese father in Denmark. He returned to Europe in 2001 and eventually settled in southern France.

No funeral arrangements were immediately available.

-- AP