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Kermit Driscoll Gravely Ill with Lyme Disease

SOURCE: Published: 2007-01-26
Though he has never released an album under his own name, the bassist Kermit Driscoll has had a considerable impact in adventurous jazz circles over the last 20 years.

Mr. Driscoll first emerged as a close compatriot of the guitarist Bill Frisell during an influential stretch from the mid-1980s through the mid-'90s. (Live, a 1991 Gramavision album credited to Bill Frisell, is especially worth seeking out for Mr. Driscoll's nimble rapport with Mr. Frisell and Mr. Baron, a drummer.) Mr. Driscoll concurrently tangled with an honor roll of downtown composer-improvisers like the alto saxophonist John Zorn and the trumpeter Dave Douglas, with whom he worked in a collective called New and Used.

Then at some point in the mid-'90s, Mr. Driscoll unknowingly contracted Lyme disease from a deer tick bite. He spent years contending with headaches, joint pain and deep fatigue before receiving an accurate diagnosis in 2005, when the disease was already in its difficult-to-treat third stage. Mr. Driscoll had stayed somewhat active during his illness -- he appeared on several noteworthy 2005 releases, including albums by the guitarist Ben Monder and the drummer John Hollenbeck -- but he found it increasingly hard to work.

Last month he managed to perform on a benefit in his honor with Mr. Douglas and Mr. Monder, among others; this month he played a concert with Mr. Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble. ("The next day he said that the music healed him -- he felt a lot better," Mr. Hollenbeck said in an e-mail message. “With this disease you go up and down.") On Monday Mr. Driscoll will appear, but probably not perform, at the largest yet benefit for his medical expenses. The lineup will include Mr. Frisell, with his 858 String Quartet; Mr. Zorn, with an undisclosed ensemble; Mr. Hollenbeck, with an ethereal group called the Refuge Trio; and the bassist John Patitucci, with the saxophonist Jon Ellis and the drummer Kendrick Scott. (Monday at 8 p.m., Tonic, 107 Norfolk Street, near Delancey Street, Lower East Side, 212-358-7501, tonicnyc.com; cover, $25.)

Tax-deductible donations can also be made payable to Emergency Relief Fund (Kermit Driscoll) and mailed to Bill Dennison, Musicians Union Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, N.Y. 10036.


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