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Harold Mabern: 1936-2019

Harold Mabern: 1936-2019

Harold Mabern, a pianist who came relatively late to prominence but quickly carved out space as a hard-bop and soul-jazz legend, died September 17. He was 83. Born in Memphis, Tenn., Mabern was self-taught and came under the sway of local jazz pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. In 1954 he moved to Chicago, where he began recording with saxophonist Frank Strozier. He also was friend with Memphis saxophonists George Coleman and Booker Little. After moving to New York in 1959, Mabern ...

Cousin Mary: Keeper of the Coltrane Legacy (1927-2019)

Cousin Mary: Keeper of the Coltrane Legacy (1927-2019)

Mary Lyerly Alexander was born July 23, 1927 to Bettie Blair Lyerly and Goler Lyerly in High Point, North Carolina. An only child, Mary and her parents lived as an extended family with her first cousin, saxophonist John W. Coltrane, his parents and their maternal grandparents. Her grandfather, Rev. William Wilson Blair, an activist who was elected a Chowan County Commissioner in 1896 who later became pastor of St. Stephens African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, built the family home at ...

Bob Wilber, RIP

Bob Wilber, RIP

We have learned that the superlative clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Bob Wilber died at his home in England earlier this month. He was 91. Wilber studied with the New Orleans reed pioneer Sidney Bechet and spent decades extending the Bechet legacy. Unusual among those who specialize in traditional music, Wilber also became adept in the bebop idiom and worked with, among others, trumpeter Clark Terry. In the Washington Post, arts writer Matt Schudel profiled Wilber in an extensive obituary. To ...

Arno Marsh (1928-2019)

Arno Marsh (1928-2019)

Arno Marsh, a big band tenor saxophonist who recorded almost exclusively with Woody Herman's Third Herd in the 1950s and cited Chu Berry and Stan Getz among his major influences, died on July 12. He was 91. In addition to his work with Herman, Arno led a band in his home town of Grand Rapids, Mich., between 1951 and '53, but the ensemble isn't known to have recorded. Arno began playing in Las Vegas starting in the late 1950s and ...

João Gilberto (1931-2019)

João Gilberto (1931-2019)

João Gilberto, whose chiffon-soft vocal covers of Brazilian colleagues' songs, his romantic guitar arrangements and intoxicating rhythms helped the bossa nova gain worldwide attention in 1959, died July 6. He was 88. The bossa nova had been played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, since 1957, when Antonio Carlo Jobim, Carlo Lyra, Sylvia Telles, Johnny Alf, Roberto Menescal and Luiz Bonfá played hotel lounges and small clubs. According to my interview with Carlos Lyra, this tight group of bossa nova composer-musicians ...

Joao Gilberto Is Gone At 88

Joao Gilberto Is Gone At 88

The man often called the founding father of bossa nova, died today at home in Rio de Janeiro. Joao Gilberto was 88. Along with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto pioneered the form that became a phenomenon of popular music in the early 1960s. With varying degrees of authenticity, bossa nova was adapted by performers around the world. It sprang from traditions of Brazilian music that reached far into Brazil’s history and reflected aspects of American music that in the fifties and ...

Doris Day (1922-2019)

Doris Day (1922-2019)

Doris Day, whose melting pop vocals on records and pert sunny image in movies in the 1940s, '50s and '60s made her both a successful multimedia star and a national dart board, died May 13. She was 97. While Day's image was an ideal for many American women coming of age after World War II, it also came to personify '50s conformity and good-girl subservience. Both of these images would be held up to ridicule in the tumultuous 1960s, when ...

Dave Samuels, RIP

Dave Samuels, RIP

The family of vibraphonist Dave Samuels has confirmed that he died in New York City on April 22. Best known for his association with the jazz-fusion band Spyro Gyra, Samuels had battled a long illness. His family did not disclose the cause of death. A Grammy award winner, Samuels was best known for more than three decades as a member of the crossover jazz-fusion band Spyro Gyra. He was 70 years old. Before joining Spyro Gyra, Samuels was a member ...

Hal Blaine (1929-2019)

Hal Blaine (1929-2019)

Hal Blaine, a prolific Los Angeles session drummer most closely associated with the Wrecking Crew, a tightly knit group of studio musicians in the 1960s and '70s who added a professional studio sound behind thousands of recordings by pop-rock groups and stars, died on March 11. He was 90. Hal played on 40 #1 hit singles, 150 top-10 hits and performed on more than 35,000 recorded tracks. He was the drummer on the Grammy's “Record of the Year" for six ...

Ed Bickert (1932-2019)

Ed Bickert (1932-2019)

Ed Bickert, a Canadian jazz guitarist whose highly tasteful chord voicings and juicy sense of harmony made him a first-choice gig and recording sideman and leader in Toronto, and who today is considered one of jazz's finest guitar accompanists, died on February 28. He was 86. Bickert was a favorite of guitarist Jim Hall and was most likely introduced to him by Canadian bassist Don Thompson, who worked with Jim since 1974. In the 1980s, when Jane Hall, Jim's wife, ...


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