Archive for the In Memoriam Category

Tributes to a King – Max Roach – Billy Taylor – Duke Ellington

Posted in In Memoriam, The Jazz Continues... with tags , , , , on April 4, 2015 by curtjazz

martin luther kingAs most of you know, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 47 years ago today in Memphis. Much has been written over the years about that tragic day in American history, including a previous post in this blog. So today, I choose to honor Dr. King with musical tributes from three of jazz’s all-time greats; Max Roach, Dr. Billy Taylor  and Duke Ellington.

Hope you enjoy them…

Max Roach plays a duet with excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech 

If You Are Concerned Then Show It – from Dr. Billy Taylor’s Peaceful Warrior Suite – Dedicated to the Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King

“Martin Luther King” was the 3rd Movement of Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings suite; one of the last symphonic works completed by Mr. Ellington. As he lay dying in his hospital room, Ellington dictated instructions for the performance  and orchestration of this piece to his son, Mercer. It was not publicly performed until after Duke’s death.

An added bonus! Here is a fourth clip that I just stumbled upon, describing a meeting between Dr. King and Duke Ellington – both, understandably, were in awe of each other…

Maureen Budway – I Wish I Had Known…

Posted in In Memoriam, Under The Radar, Unsung Women of Jazz, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2015 by curtjazz

maureen budwayAs I opened the most recent issue of Downbeat magazine, looking, as is my wont when a fresh copy arrives, for new and interesting projects from artists who are unfamiliar to me, I came across an ad for Sweet Candor, the debut album from a vocalist named Maureen Budway. I grabbed a few tracks from an online resource and began to listen. I was immediately impressed by her easy swing, her tone and the pure soulfulness of her voice. And she totally won me over with a vocal version of “Del Sasser”, the Sam Jones tune made famous by Cannonball Adderley. I thought “I like this lady” and put her in my mental category of hidden gem vocalists who deserve wider recognition. My next thought was “I can’t wait to hear more from Maureen Budway”.

Sadly, there will be no further recordings by Ms. Budway, who as I found out when I read the glowing review of Sweet Candor later in the issue, passed away on January 12, 2015, at age 51, after a 20 year battle with breast cancer. She recorded the album last fall and had gotten to hear the finished product around Christmastime, a scant few weeks before her death.

I knew nothing of Maureen Budway until a few days ago, so any attempt by me to eulogize her would be fairly absurd. I will state a few of the facts that I’ve learned from my reading: She was a longtime part of the Pittsburgh area jazz scene and a respected and beloved vocal teacher at her alma mater, Duquesne University. Her brother David, is a fairly well-known jazz pianist (who performs on her album). She began singing professionally at age 18 and continued to do so, despite her illness, until just a few months before her death. And she has left us with one impressive album in Sweet Candor, which features guest appearances by trumpeter Sean Jones and flute legend Hubert Laws, among others.

In my younger days, I spent quite a bit of time in Pittsburgh, having a jazz musician close friend who lived there for a number of years. During those trips to the Steel City I dropped in to a number of its jazz spots so it’s possible that I crossed paths with Maureen Budway. If so, I wish I had known then what I know now; that Maureen Budway was a rare and beautiful jazz vocalist. She deserved to have a recorded catalog that was deep and wide. Nevertheless, we are grateful to MCG Records for ensuring that she can never be forgotten.

Jazz Artists We Lost in 2014 – Part II

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2015 by curtjazz

To yesterday’s list we add another group of jazz great who passed on in 2014. We remember them and we celebrate and forever cherish their artistry:

  • John Blake 
  • Joe Bonner 
  • Jackie Cain (Jackie & Roy) 
  • Roy Campbell 
  • Paul Horn 
  • Herb Jeffries 
  • Ronny Jordan 
  • Idris Muhammad 
  • Frank Strazzeri 
  • Kenny Wheeler 
  • Joe Wilder 

May they all Rest In Peace

Memories of You – Jazz Artists We Lost in 2014: Part 1

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2015 by curtjazz

Before we totally immerse ourselves in the New Year, I want to look back and remember some of the great jazz artists that we lost in 2014. While they may have left this place, we are so blessed that we are able through today’s technology, to look back a fondly remember why their art will live forever.

May they all rest in peace.

  • Buddy DeFranco 
  • Kenny Drew, Jr. 
  • Charlie Haden 
  • Wayne Henderson (The Crusaders – trombone) 
  • Tim Hauser (Manhattan Transfer) 
  • Joe Sample 
  • Jimmy Scott 
  • Horace Silver 
  • Gerald Wilson 

Please not that this is not an exhaustive list. There will be additional remembrances in Part 2.

Horace Silver – A Video Memorial

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , on June 20, 2014 by curtjazz

Horace Silver (1928 – 2014)

horace silverThough Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva (which he later changed to “Silver”) penned and performed some of the most enduring compositions in jazz history, I don’t think that during his lifetime, he received the respect that he deserved.  Perhaps it was because many of his compositions, while they used interesting time signatures and complex rhythms, were also often infused with a good dose of soul and R & B influence; something which immediately makes many so-called “serious jazz scholars” turn up their collective noses. But Horace Silver did something that many of the more lionized critical darlings could never do; he made uncompromising jazz that also was able to speak to the masses.

From his days alongside Art Blakey in the original Jazz Messengers right into the early part of this century, Mr. Silver continued to create music that could reach the head, the heart and in many instances, even the feet. He recorded for Blue Note Records from 1952 until the label went into a temporary hiatus in 1979, longer than any other artist in the label’s history.

And what a rich partnership it was; with classic albums such as A Night at Birdland; Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers; Finger Poppin’; Tokyo Blues; Serenade to a Soul Sister and Song for my FatherHis compositions during that time included, “Sister Sadie”; “Peace”; “The Preacher”; “Senor Blues”; “Strollin'”; “Nica’s Dream” and so many more. Like Blakey, Silver also nurtured the careers of many young players in his bands, who then went on to make their own mark on jazz. Over the years, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Blue Mitchell Bennie Maupin and Louis Hayes all spent part of their formative years working in one of Mr. Silver’s groups.

Though slowed by ill-health and dementia over the last five years, Mr. Silver’s art still made him a formidable presence in the jazz world. I will refer you to the excellent New York Times obituary by Peter Keepnews for an in-depth retrospective of the man and his career and to Mr. Silver’s informative, if occasionally inscrutable 2006 autobiography Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty for additional details. I will leave you with a few performance clips from his prime in the ’60’s and my undying gratitude to a man whose music will always be a part of my life.

Video Memorial: Ronny Jordan (1962 – 2014)

Posted in In Memoriam with tags , , , , on January 14, 2014 by curtjazz

ronny jordanI just heard that Ronny Jordan has passed away. The British guitarist was one of the leading lights of the Acid Jazz movement that caught fire in England in the early nineties and because of his work with Guru and other American hip-hop artists his cool, Wes Montgomery influenced lines were soon heard on many tracks in U.S. clubs as well.

I really dug his first two U.S. releases, The Antidote (his best album) and The Quiet Revolution, which were released at the height of Acid Jazz’s popularity in the U.S. Ironically most people in this country probably know him for a track on The Quiet Revolution that was popularized by a scene on a television show in which Jordan was never mentioned by name. The show is The West Wing and the song is “The Jackal” to which the character “C.J.”(Allison Janney) performs a quirky, yet compelling lip-sync of Dana Bryant’s spoken-word vocal.

Jordan continued to perform and record into the 21st Century but he never again reached the popularity stateside that the last decade of the 20th Century brought him. 

For those unfamiliar with his work, I’ve included a few clips, including The Antidote in its entirety and a couple of cuts of Jordan playing live, showing off his chops.

Rest in Peace, Ronny Jordan

Jazz Artists We Lost in 2013 – Part II

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by curtjazz

Though I never intended my previous post to be a comprehensive record of fine jazz artists who passed away in 2013, I realize after reviewing JazzTimes‘ list that there were so, so many that I left out.

So although this is still far from all-inclusive, here’s another video clip memorial to some of the fine jazz musicians who left us in 2013.

Many of these names are not as familiar as the ones from Part I, but if you’re not familiar with them, it will be worth your while to do some research.

The masters are leaving us very quickly friends, please support and appreciate them while they are here.

Sathima Bea Benjamin (voice)

Oscar Castro-Neves (guitar, voice)

Boyd Lee Dunlop (piano)

Ricky Lawson (drums)

Gloria Lynne (voice)

Sam Most (flute)

Jimmy Ponder (guitar)

Melvin Rhyne (organ)

Ben Tucker (bass)

Johnny Smith (guitar)

Ed Shaughnessy (drums)

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