Category Archives: Obituary

Notable Deaths 2018

Donald “Jumbo” Vanrenen (Music industry executive), 69
Galt MacDermot (Canadian-American composer/pianist), 89
Arthur Maia (Brazilian composer/musician), 56
Nancy Wilson (Grammy winner American jazz singer), 81
Jorge López Ruiz (Argentinian jazz bassist/composer), 83
Perry Robinson (American jazz musician), 80
Calvin Newborn (American jazz guitarist), 85
Jody Williams (American blues musician), 83
Gary Haisman (English musician), 60
Roger Neumann (American jazz saxophonist), 77
Johnny Maddox (American pianist), 91
Imrat Khan (Indian sitar player), 83
Roy Bailey (English folk singer), 83
Roman Grinev (Russian jazz bassist), 41
Roy Hargrove (American jazz trumpeter), 49
Cornelius “Sonny” Fortune (American jazz saxophonist), 79
Elder Roma Wilson (American gospel singer), 107
Raúl Marrero Quiles (Puerto Rican singer/composer/conductor), 92
Theresa Hightower (American jazz singer), 64
Hamiet Bluiett (American jazz saxophonist), 78
John Tyrrell (British musicologist), 76
John Von Ohlen (American jazz drummer), 77
Geoff Emerick (English recording engineer), 72
Charles Aznavour (French-Armenian singer/lyricist/actor), 94
Jerry González (American bandleader and trumpeter), 69

Angela Maria (Brazilian singer), 89
Otis Rush (American Hall of Fame blues guitarist/singer), 84
Tito Madi (Brazilian singer and composer), 89
Sergei Mosin (Russian jazz musician), 59
Joseph Hoo Kim (Jamaican record producer), 76
Wesley Tinglin (Jamaican reggae singer), 75
Big Jay McNeely (American R&B saxophonist), 91
Max Bennett (American jazz bassist), 90
María Magdalena Pavón (Ecuadorian singer), 77
Wilson Moreira (Brazilian sambista/singer/songwriter), 81
Randy Weston (American jazz pianist/composer), 92

Zé Béttio (Brazilian composer), 92
Aretha Franklin (American soul singer/pianist/songwriter), 76
Count Prince Miller (Jamaican-born British singer/actor), 83
Queeneth Ndaba (South African jazz singer), 82
Alberto Tosca (Cuban singer-songwriter/guitarist), 63
Guilherme Lamounier (Brazilian singer-songwriter/composer), 67
Irvin Jarrett (Jamaican reggae percussionist), 69
Tomasz Stańko (Polish jazz trumpeter/composer), 76
Henry Butler (American jazz pianist), 68
Bill Watrous (American jazz trombonist), 79
Roy Carr (British music journalist for NME), 73
Big Bill Bissonnette (American jazz musician), 81
Lowrell Simon (American soul singer-songwriter), 75
Rebecca Parris (American jazz singer), 66
Wayne Dockery (American jazz double bassist), 76
Bob Dorough (American vocalist), 94
Charles Neville (American R&B and jazz musician), 79
Lorraine Gordon (Club owner for Village Vanguard), 95
Brian Browne (Canadian jazz pianist), 81
Norman Edge (American jazz musician), 84
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin (The Last Poets), 73
Clarence Fountain (The Blind Boys of Alabama), 88
Eddy Clearwater (American blues singer/guitarist), 83
Mikhail Alperin (Ukrainian-born Norwegian jazz pianist), 61
John “Jabo” Starks (American drummer for James Brown), 79

Roy Young (British singer/pianist), 81
Stuart Colman (English musician/record producer/broadcaster), 73
Jim Caine (British jazz pianist/radio presenter), 91
Dona Ivone Lara (Brazilian singer/composer), 97
Stan Reynolds (British jazz musician), 92
Gyula Babos (Hungarian jazz guitarist), 68
Yvonne Staples (The Staple Singers), 80
Cecil Taylor (American jazz pianist), 89
Audrey Morris (American jazz singer/pianist), 89
Olly Wilson (American composer/musicologist/jazz musician), 80
Jerzy Milian (Polish jazz musician), 82
Eddy Amoo (British soul singer), 73
Harriet Fier (American magazine editor for Rolling Stone), 67
Didier Lockwood (French jazz violinist), 62,
Boyd Jarvis (American music producer), 59
Al Garner (British jazz musician), 88

Algia Mae Hinton (American blues singer/guitarist), 88
Leon “Ndugu” Chancler (American jazz drummer), 65
Dennis Edwards (American soul and R&B singer), 74
Asmund Bjørken (Norwegian jazz musician), 84
Coco Schumann (German jazz musician), 93
Floyd Miles (American blues musician/singer), 74
Tommy Banks (Canadian jazz pianist/composer/senator), 81
Cliff White (British music journalist), 72
Hugh Masekela (South African jazz trumpeter/composer), 78
Preston Shannon (American blues singer/songwriter/guitarist), 70
Terry Evans (American blues and soul musician), 80
Bill Hughes (American jazz trombonist), 87
Marlene VerPlanck (American jazz singer), 84
Denise LaSalle (American blues singer), 78
Betty Willis (American soul singer), 76

Randy Weston 1926-2018

“I am truly honored in my life to have been able to share a stage and perform with many of the great names in Jazz Music and Mr. Randy Weston will indeed stand as one of the true beacons of this journey as he was able to see my quest towards my particular expression. I will forever be thankful and his spirit on this earthly plain will be missed.” – Stafford James, Sept 2, 2018

Notable Deaths 2017

Melton Mustafa (Jazz musician and educator), 70
Robbie Malinga (South African musician and producer), 47
Halvard Kausland (Norwegian jazz guitarist), 72
Roswell Rudd (American jazz trombonist), 82

Kevin Mahogany (American jazz singer), 59
Michael Prophet (Jamaican reggae singer), 60
Keely Smith (American singer), 89
Willie Pickens (American jazz pianist and educator), 86
Sunny Murray (American jazz drummer for Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler), 81
Mundell Lowe (American jazz guitarist and composer), 95
Robert Walker (American blues musician), 80
Magín Díaz (Colombian folk singer and songwriter), 94
Jon Hendricks (American jazz singer and songwriter for Lambert, Hendricks & Ross), 96
John Coates Jr. (American jazz pianist), 79
Wayne Cochran (American soul singer and songwriter), 78
Della Reese (American actress and singer), 86
Ben Riley (American jazz drummer for Thelonious Monk), 84
Robert Knight (American R&B singer), 72
Katie Lee (American folk singer), 98
Theo Bophela (South African jazz musician), 86
Keith Wilder (American funk/disco singer of Heatwave), 65
Shea Norman (American gospel singer), 45
Fats Domino (American Hall of Fame pianist and singer-songwriter), 89
Atle Hammer (Norwegian jazz musician), 85
Grady Tate (American jazz drummer), 85
Bunny Sigler (American songwriter and record producer for The O’Jays, The Roots), 76
CeDell Davis (American blues musician), 90
Charles Bradley (American soul singer), 68
Laudir de Oliveira (Brazilian musician for Sérgio Mendes, Chicago), 77
Leo Cuypers (Dutch jazz pianist and composer), 69
Rick Stevens (American R&B singer of Tower of Power), 77
Earl Lindo (Jamaican reggae musician), 64
Walter Becker (American musician and songwriter; co-founder of Steely Dan), 67
Hedley Jones (Jamaican musician, audio engineer and inventor), 99
Melissa Bell (English singer to Soul II Soul), 53
Wilson das Neves (Brazilian percussionist and singer), 81

Larry Marshall (Jamaican reggae singer), 75
Winston Samuels (Jamaica Ska Legend), 73
John Abercrombie (American jazz guitarist), 72

Segun Bucknor (Nigerian musician), 71
Luiz Melodia (Brazilian actor, singer, and songwriter), 66
Chuck Loeb (American jazz guitarist for Fourplay), 61
Errol Dyers (South African jazz guitarist and composer), 65
Paapa Yankson (Ghanaian highlife musician), 73
Wilindoro Cacique (Peruvian Amazonian cumbia musician from Juaneco y Su Combo), 75
Graham Wood (Australian jazz pianist), 45
Fresh Kid Ice (American rapper from 2 Live Crew), 53
Egil Kapstad (Norwegian jazz pianist, arranger and composer), 76
Ray Phiri (South African jazz musician), 70
Melvyn “Deacon” Jones (American blues musician), 73
John Blackwell (American funk and jazz drummer for Prince), 43
Phil Cohran (American jazz trumpeter), 90

Geri Allen (American jazz pianist, composer), 60
Prodigy (American rapper from Mobb Deep), 42
Noel Neal (American blues musician for Kenny Neal, bassist for James Cotton), 54
Chris Murrell (American jazz singer), 61
Sonny Knight (American soul singer, singer of Sonny Knight & The Lakers), 69
Thara Memory (American jazz trumpeter), 68
Luis Abanto Morales (Peruvian singer and composer), 93
Vin Garbutt (British folk singer), 69
Skipp Pearson (American jazz musician), 79
Educated Rapper (American rapper for UTFO), 54
Mickey Roker (American jazz drummer), 84
Kid Vinil (Brazilian musician and record producer), 62
Frankie Paul (Jamaican musician), 51
Rosa Nell Speer (American gospel singer for Speer Family), 94
Tom McClung (American jazz pianist and composer), 60
Bill Dowdy (American jazz drummer for The Three Sounds), 84
Dave Pell (American jazz musician), 92
Rais Khan (Pakistani sitarist), 77
Saxa (Jamaican-born British saxophonist for The Beat), 87
Erkki Kurenniemi (Finnish musician), 75
Belchior (Brazilian singer and composer), 70
Zoe Raella (American rapper), 32
Calep Emphrey Jr. (American drummer for B.B. King), 67
Jerry Adriani (Brazilian singer and actor), 70
Kerry Turman (bass player of The Temptations), 59
Cuba Gooding, Sr (singer for Main Ingredient), 72
Allan Holdsworth (British guitarist and composer for Bruford, Soft Machine, U.K., Tempest), 70

Kim Plainfield (American jazz drummer), 63
David Peel (American singer and political activist), 73
Brenda Jones (American R&B singer for The Jones Girls), 62
Lonnie Brooks (American blues guitarist and singer), 83
Aldo Guibovich (Peruvian singer for Los Pasteles Verdes), 64
Arthur Blythe (American jazz alto saxophonist and composer), 76
Clem Curtis (Trinidadian-born British singer), 76
Jimmy Dotson (American blues musician), 83
Avo Uvezian (Armenian-American jazz pianist), 91
Roy Fisher (British poet and jazz pianist), 86
Chuck Berry (American rock and roll musician), 90
James Cotton (American blues harmonica player), 81
Wojciech Młynarski (Polish poet, singer and songwriter), 75
P-Nut / Robert Johnson (American keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic), 69
Joni Sledge (American singer for Sister Sledge), 60
Dave Valentin (American jazz flautist), 64
Edi Fitzroy (Jamaican reggae singer), 62
Misha Mengelberg (Dutch jazz pianist and composer), 81
Eric Miller (American record producer for Pablo Records), 75
Fumio Karashima (Japanese jazz pianist), 68
Leon Ware (American musician and record producer), 77
Larry Coryell (American jazz guitarist), 73
Clyde Stubblefield (American drummer for James Brown), 73
Pericoma Okoye (Nigerian singer)
E-Dubble (American rap artist), 34
Tibério Gaspar (Brazilian musician and composer), 73
Al Jarreau (American Jazz singer), 76
Walter “Junie” Morrison (keyboards in Funkadelic and the Ohio Players), 62
Svend Asmussen (Danish jazz violinist), 100
David Axelrod (American Jazz musician), 83
Noel Simms (Jamaican reggae musician), 82
Bobby Freeman (American singer), 76
John Wetton (British singer-songwriter and bass guitarist of Asia and King Crimson), 67
Geoff Nicholls (English keyboardist for Black Sabbath), 68
Lundi Tyamara (South African Gospel singer), 38
Ronnie Davis (Jamaican reggae singer), 66
William Onyeabor (Nigerian singer-songwriter), 70

Charles “Bobo” Shaw (American jazz drummer), 69
Thandi Klaasen (South African jazz singer), 86
Mark Fisher (British writer, music journalist for The Wire), 48
Tony Booth (British poster artist, including The Beatles), 83
Buddy Greco (American jazz and pop singer and pianist), 90
Nat Hentoff (Jazz critic for Village Voice), 91
Sylvester Potts (American soul singer for The Contours), 78
Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan (Indian sitar player and composer), 89
Bade Fateh Ali Khan (Pakistani singer), 82

Notable Deaths 2016

What was it our right royal queen called it..? Annus Horribilis. We don’t think there is any doubt that 2016 has been an unprecedented 12 months for the loss of some of our beloved and revered musicians. One or two losses may have been expected for a while whilst others have stunned us into total shock as we had no previous idea.
If you trawl online, some people have tried to explain why there have been more deaths in 2016 than for many previous years before and we’ll leave those explanations to them.

The power of music does come to the fore when you see music fans openly weeping or shaking their head in disbelief when they hear the news that their idol has died. And it is somewhat of a cliché when we say that a musician (who we have probably never met on a social basis) who has died, feels like a family member.
The connection with the music can be so personal when you’re sitting at home or on the bus or alone in your car listening to what that artist has to say. So when they do pass, it does feel like a huge hole in our lives.

We at UK Vibe would like to take a moment to honour the lives of those musicians who did sadly pass away this year. Not all are jazz musicians but all have touched our individual lives and understanding of the music that we love.
We simply encourage you to keep that spirit alive by keep buying & playing the music and also introducing the sound that you have come to love so much to others.

Remember not all artists who have given of themselves, sometimes selflessly, die as wealthy individuals. A lot of them die as paupers. Some of them even homeless and unfortunately some not of sound mind. We salute them all and thank them for enriching our lives and for bringing so much joy into a sometimes bleak and joyless world.

May they rest in rhythmic peace.

[26 Dec] Alphonse Mouzon, 68, American jazz drummer
[22 Dec] Carlos Averhoff, 69, Cuban jazz saxophonist
[21 Dec] Betty Loo Taylor, 87, American jazz pianist
[22 Dec] Sven Zetterberg, 64, Swedish blues musician
[13 Dec] Ahuva Ozeri, 68, Israeli singer
[12 Dec] Barrelhouse Chuck, 58, American blues musician
[06 Dec] Michael White, 83, American violinist and composer
[03 Dec] Herbert Hardesty, 91 American jazz musician

[28 Nov] Carlton Kitto, 74, Indian jazz guitarist
[29 Nov] Allan Zavod, 71, Australian composer and jazz musician
[24 Nov] Shirley Bunnie Foy, 80, American jazz musician
[20 Nov] Hod O’Brien, 80, American jazz pianist
[18 Nov] Sharon Jones, 60, American singer
[15 Nov] Mose Allison, 89, American jazz pianist, singer and songwriter
[02 Nov] Bob Cranshaw, 83, American jazz bassist (Blue Note Records / Musicians Union)

[27 Oct] Bobby Wellins, 80, Scottish jazz saxophonist
[18 Oct] Mike Daniels, 88, British jazz trumpeter and bandleader

[26 Sep] Karel Růžička, 76, Czech jazz pianist, Anděl Award winner
[08 Sep] Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician
[07 Sep] Clifford Curry, 79, American Soul/folk/beach singer (The Notations)

[29 Aug] Michael Di Pasqua, 63, American jazz drummer
[25 Aug] Rudy Van Gelder, 91, American recording engineer
[22 Aug] Toots Thielemans, 94, Belgian jazz guitarist, whistler and harmonica player
[20 Aug] Louis Smith, 85, American jazz trumpeter
[20 Aug] Louis Stewart, 72, Irish jazz guitarist
[19 Aug] Derek Smith, 85, British jazz pianist
[15 Aug] Bobby Hutcherson, 75, American jazz musician
[13 Aug] Connie Crothers, 75, American jazz pianist

[25 Jul] Allan Barnes, 66, American jazz saxophonist (The Blackbyrds)
[22 Jul] Dominic Duval, 71, American free jazz bassist
[16 Jul] Claude Williamson, 89, American jazz pianist
[15 Jul] Charles Davis, 83, American jazz saxophonist
[15 Jul] Roland Prince, 69, Antiguan jazz guitarist

[30 June] Don Friedman, 81, American jazz pianist
[26 June] Mike Pedicin, 98, American jazz bandleader
[23 June] Shelley Moore, 84, British-born American jazz singer
[17 June] Willy Andresen, 94, Norwegian jazz pianist
[13 June] Randy Jones, 72, British-born American jazz musician

[16 May] Fredrik Norén, 75, Swedish jazz drummer
[14 May] Paul Smoker, 75, American jazz trumpeter
[13 May] Buster Cooper, 87, American jazz trombonist
[11 May] Joe Temperley, 86, Scottish saxophonist (Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra)
[01 May] Doug Raney, 59, American jazz guitarist

[24 Apr] Billy Paul, 81, American R&B singer
[24 Apr] Papa Wemba, 66, Congolese singer
[21 Apr] Prince, 57, American musician, songwriter
[13 Apr] Pete Yellin, 74, American jazz saxophonist and educator
[13 Apr] Jeremy Steig, 73, American jazz flutist
[05 Apr] Leon Haywood, 74, American funk and soul singer
[05 Apr] Zena Latto, 90, American jazz saxophonist
[04 Apr] Getatchew Mekurya, 81, Ethiopian jazz saxophonist
[03 Apr] Bill Henderson, 90, American jazz vocalist
[03 Apr] Don Francks, 84, Canadian jazz vocalist
[02 Apr] Gato Barbieri, 83, Argentine jazz saxophonist

[26 Mar] Joe Shepley, 85, American jazz trumpeter
[26 Mar] David Baker, 84, American jazz musician
[24 Mar] Roger Cicero, 45, German jazz and pop musician
[23 Mar] Jimmy Riley, 68, Jamaican reggae musician
[22 Mar] Phife Dawg, 45, American rapper (A Tribe Called Quest)
[11 Mar] Joe Ascione, 54, American jazz drummer
[10 Mar] Ernestine Anderson, 87, American jazz vocalist
[09 Mar] Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and vocalist, eight-time Grammy Award winner
[08 Mar] Claus Ogerman, 86, German jazz conductor and arranger
[07 Mar] Joe Cabot, 94, American jazz musician and band leader
[03 Mar] Gavin Christopher, 66, American R&B singer, songwriter, musician, and producer (Curtom Records)

[25 Feb] John Chilton, 83, British jazz musician and writer
[23 Feb] Rey Caney, 89, Cuban musician
[19 Feb] Harald Devold, 51, Norwegian jazz musician
[14 Feb] L. C. Ulmer, 87, American blues musician
[04 Feb] Maurice White, 74, American songwriter and musician (Earth, Wind & Fire)

[08 Jan] Otis Clay, 73, American R&B and soul singer
[05 Jan] Nicholas Caldwell, 71, American R&B singer (The Whispers)
[04 Jan] Long John Hunter, 84, American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter

Notable Deaths 2015

Natalie Maria Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015) – American singer

William Franklin Guest (July 2, 1941 – December 24, 2015) – American R&B/soul singer

Sam Dockery (1929 – December 23, 2015) – American jazz pianist (Art Blakey, Roy Haynes)

Isham Russell “Rusty” Jones II (April 13, 1942 – December 9, 2015) – American jazz drummer

Svein “Chrico” Christiansen (6 August 1941 – 25 November 2015) – Norwegian jazz drummer

Albert “Al” Aarons (March 23, 1932 – November 17, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter

Hubert Leroy “Herbie” Goins (February 21, 1939 – October 27, 2015) – American rhythm & blues singer

Lee Shaw (June 25, 1926 – October 25, 2015) – American jazz pianist and composer

Nat Peck (January 13, 1925 – October 24, 2015) – American jazz trombonist

Mark Howe Murphy (March 14, 1932 – October 22, 2015) – American jazz singer

Donald Percy ‘Don’ Rendell (4 March 1926 – 20 October 2015) – English jazz musician and arranger

Larry Rosen (May 25, 1940 – October 9, 2015) – American producer/musician/recording engineer

Otis Ray “Killer” Appleton (August 23, 1941 – October 7, 2015) – American jazz drummer

David Samuel Pike (March 23, 1938 – October 3, 2015) jazz vibraphone and marimba player (MPS Records)

George Coleridge Emerson Goode (29 November 1914 – 2 October 2015) – British Jamaican-born jazz bassist (Indo-Jazz Fusions)

Willie Akins (April 10, 1939 – October 2, 2015) – American jazz musician

Harold Lomax Ousley (January 23, 1929 – August 13, 2015) – American jazz tenor saxophonist and flautist

Russell Audley Ferdinand “Russ” Henderson MBE (7 January 1924 – 18 August 2015) – jazz musician on the piano and the steelpan

Hugo Rasmussen (22 March 1941 – 30 August 2015) Danish bassist

Masabumi Kikuchi (19 October 1939 – 6 July 2015) – Japanese jazz pianist/composer

Howard Rumsey (November 7, 1917 – July 15, 2015) – American jazz double-bassist

John Taylor (25 September 1942 – 17 July 2015) – British jazz pianist

Bruce Edward Washington, Jr. a.k.a. Hussein Fatal (April 3, 1977 – July 10, 2015) American rapper (Outlawz)

Archie Alleyne (January 7, 1933 – June 8, 2015) – Canadian jazz drummer

Paul Bacon (December 25, 1923 – June 8, 2015) – American book and album cover designer and jazz musician.

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) – American jazz saxophonist/violinist/trumpeter/composer.

John Landry “Buddy” Boudreaux (December 27, 1917 – June 13, 2015) – big band and jazz saxophone/clarinet

Allan Vincent Browne OAM (28 July 1944 – 13 June 2015) – Australian jazz drummer/composer

Harold Raymond Battiste, Jr. (October 28, 1931 – June 19, 2015) – American music composer/arranger/performer/teacher (Sam Cooke)

Gunther Alexander Schuller (November 22, 1925 – June 21, 2015) – American jazz musician/composer/conductor//author/historian

Eddy Louiss (2 May 1941 – 30 June 2015) – French jazz musician

Samuel McClain a.k.a. Mighty Sam McClain (April 15, 1943 – June 15, 2015) – American soul/blues singer/songwriter

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) – American jazz saxophonist

Jerome Cooper (December 14, 1946 – May 6, 2015) – American free jazz musician

Luz Ercilia Fabery Zenón a.k.a. Lucy Fabery (January 25, 1931 – May 13, 2015) – Puerto Rican jazz singer
Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly (1945 – May 15, 2015) – American R&B and jazz singer

Marcus Batista Belgrave (June 12, 1936 – May 24, 2015) American jazz trumpeter

Raymond Huston “Ray” Kennedy Jr. (1957 – May 28, 2015) – American jazz pianist/composer/arranger

Margo Reed (c. 1942 – April 15, 2015) – American blues singer

Marty Napoleon (June 2, 1921 – April 27, 2015) – American jazz pianist (Louis Armstrong)

Percy Tyrone Sledge (November 25, 1940 – April 14, 2015) was an African American R&B/soul/gospel singer

Benjamin Earl King a.k.a. Ben E. King (September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015) – American soul and R&B singer/producer

Orrin Keepnews (March 2, 1923 – March 1, 2015) – American jazz writer/producer (Riverside, Milestone, Fantasy, Landmark Records)

Lewis Michael Soloff (February 20, 1944 – March 8, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter/composer/actor (Machito, Tony Scott, Maynard Ferguson and Tito Puente)

Robert “Bob” Parlocha (April 18, 1938 – March 15, 2015) – American jazz expert/radio host/programmer/saxophone player

Paul Jeffrey (April 8, 1933 – March 20, 2015) – American jazz tenor saxophonist/arranger/educator (Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton and B.B. King)

John Newton “Johnny” Helms (February 10, 1935 – March 27, 2015) – American jazz trumpeter/bandleader/music educator (Woody Herman, Clark Terry and Chris Potter)

Billy Butler (June 7, 1945 – March 31, 2015) – American soul singer/songwriter

Zane Musa (January 1, 1979 – February 2, 2015) Alto/Soprano/Tenor Saxophonist /vocalist

William Thomas McKinley (December 9, 1938 – February 3, 2015) – American composer/jazz pianist

Richie Pratt (March 11, 1943 – February 12, 2015, born Richard Dean Tyree) – American jazz drummer

Keith Copeland (April 18, 1946 – February 14, 2015) – jazz drummer/music educator

Hulon E. Crayton (c. 1956 – February 14, 2015) – American smooth jazz saxophonist

Clark Terry Jr. (December 14, 1920 – February 21, 2015) – American swing and bebop trumpeter/composer/educator

Erik Amundsen (1 February 1937 – 22 February 2015) – Norwegian jazz bassist

George Arthur Probert, Jr. (March 5, 1927 – January 10, 2015) – American jazz clarinetist/soprano saxophonist/bandleader

Cynthia Layne (February 27, 1963 – January 18, 2015) – American contemporary jazz vocalist

Donald James Randolph a.k.a. Don Covay (March 24, 1936 – January 31, 2015) – American R&B/soul singer

Mark Murphy R.I.P.

The celebrated singer who gave the UK jazz world so much joy passed away yesterday.

Some random recollections on the passing of Mark Murphy (March 14, 1932 – October 22, 2015).

I still remember like it was yesterday (instead of half my lifetime ago) the trepidation I felt as I travelled to an early (1986/7) Birmingham Jazz gig as a new recruit to their board, to hear for the first time a Male Jazz singer. I had stayed silent when his concert availability was first mooted, knowing nothing of his singing style, and expected yet another sub Sinatra crooner. I knew my Last Poets and Leon Thomas, relating to their righteousness and mysticism, but some white guy with a pick up piano trio?

This was of course Mark Murphy, who passed away on Thursday the 22nd of October at the age of 83, in the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. It just goes to show how prejudice is a two way street. Instead of judging him by the press pic with the booking details, I should have done my homework. What we heard that night was a soloist of the first order, making harder work of riffing off tunes and famous horn solos by setting his own words to them. We were eased in to the programme with a subtly quirky take on ‘Nature Boy’, but this was followed by a full immersion in to a concoction of tunes themed around Jack Kerouac. This material drew on several Muse label albums of his, still in print I suspect at that time, all worth hearing. San Francisco of the Bop era came to life in a jagged expressionist soundscape. I was hooked.

Vocalese, as this style is known, really calls upon the patience of the improvisor, armed with a turntable and notepad, as they build the picture in sound at the speed of a stop motion animator working in the pre digital era. Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, Annie Ross and Jon Hendricks pioneered the form, but the leap from Swing to Modern was made by this charming, affable, urban and urbane vocalist. His unique sound was no doubt informed by the New York lifestyle he embraced so wholeheartedly (it was, after all the heart of modern jazz for half a century), whilst maintaining a hidden sexuality. We are on a new page in singing style from his earliest Riverside recordings, albums we saw over here first in Fontana guise, all of which I hoovered up as I spotted them on my travels, as well as those Muses I mentioned. Fine singing is still found in this last decade on recordings made by British label, Gearbox, along with six or seven other projects, mainly collaborations. Sandwiched between these, he developed an affinity for England, moving here for a while in the late 60’s to early 70’s. He retained that fondness for here, letting his local admirers know he wanted them to set up a British fan club.

As I’ve mentioned in social media, I firmly believe the torch has been passed to Kurt Elling in this niche vocalese style, but what greater tribute to his standing could there be than to know that Elling regards him as without peer.

Mark Harrington