In Memoriam: Jazz artists we lost in 2018

The last days of 2018 offer a moment of reflection on the year of jazz. At JAZZIZ, we take great pleasure in reviewing the wealth of music that has been released over the past few months, which is why we are only too happy to share with you our annual list of the best albums of the year. and playlists from our last issue of 2018. But in all joyful things there is often a kernel of sadness, and it’s now that we stop to remember some of the iconic jazz artists who made us their. farewell this year. In jazz there is a strong tradition of commemorating the life of a musician who died not in grief but in song. It is a way of celebrating the artist’s lasting contribution to music, not the end of his work. With that in mind, we remember those we lost in 2018 through the music they so nobly left behind.

Marlene VerPlanck
November 11, 1933 – January 14, 2018

A prolific studio singer in the ’60s and’ 70s (famous for her rendition of the Campbell Soup jingle “Mm, Mm, Good”), Marlene VerPlanck has had a distinguished career as a jazz singer specializing in the Great American Songbook and popular music. of the golden age of jazz.

Hugh masekela
April 4, 1939 – January 23, 2018

This South African jazz figurehead drew on a variety of sources – traditional African folk music, jazz, rhythm & blues and more – to create music that touched hearts and enlightened minds. His art was an important voice against the apartheid policies of his home country.

Cecil taylor
March 25, 1929 – April 5, 2018

One of the early pioneers of free jazz, pianist Cecil Taylor was one of the first musicians to use jazz as a vehicle to achieve a more abstract and liberated form of artistic expression. His solo improvisations had the fervent energy of a classical symphony and the mystique of interpretive dance.

Bob dorough
December 12, 1923 – April 23, 2018

The acclaimed singer, well known for his version of “I’m Just a Bill”, was an influential member of the New York jazz scene of the 1950s and 1960s, sharing the stage with luminaries such as Miles Davis and Blossom Dearie.

Charles Neville
December 28, 1938 – April 26, 2018

As one of four Neville brothers (along with singer Aaron, pianist Art, and drummer Cyril), saxophonist Charles Neville helped define the genre known as New Orleans funk. The original composition of the group “Healing Chant” won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1989.

Lorraine Gordon
October 15, 1922 – June 9, 2018

Lorraine Gordon became the owner of Village Vanguard, New York’s most esteemed jazz venue, in 1989 after the death of her husband, Max. A lifelong jazz enthusiast, Gordon has maintained the club’s legacy as the “Camelot of the Jazz Halls”. For her dedication to the art form, she received a NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2013.

Bill Watrous
June 8, 1939 – July 2, 2018

Blessed with a soft but luminescent sound, trombonist Bill Watrous was an integral part of the big band scene of the 1970s. In addition to occupying trombone seats in groups led by Maynard Ferguson, Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones, he was also a captivating conductor with over 20 albums to his credit.

Henri butler
September 21, 1948 – July 2, 2018

The accomplished jazz showman, pianist Henry Butler helped push the distinctive style of New Orleans’ Caribbean-hued folk music to new heights by incorporating elements of funk, psychedelic rock and early jazz. keep.

Tomasz stanko
July 11, 1942 – July 29, 2018

Initially a leading figure in Polish jazz, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko became a worldwide sensation thanks to his lyrical and tender work with Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Cecil Taylor and other avant-garde masters. As a conductor, he received praise for his ruminative melodic approach and clean, delicate tone.

Aretha franklin
March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018

With her unique blend of gospel sensibility and R&B ethics, Aretha Franklin paved the way for the development of soul and Motown in the 1960s and 1970s. A series of hits from this era – namely “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, ”“ Chain of Fools ”and“ Think ”- would serve as the soundtrack to the mid-century feminist movement in America.

Randy Weston
April 6, 1926 – September 1, 2018

A NEA jazz master and composer of standards such as “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles,” pianist Randy Weston has left behind a treasure trove of music that spans almost every corner of the jazz idiom. , with early recordings that fit perfectly into the canon Grand American Songbook and subsequent albums that incorporate elements of African folklore and contemporary American funk.

Fat Jay McNeely
April 29, 1927 – September 16, 2018

As the reigning king of tenor saxophonists, Big Jay McNeely helped cultivate the wild, tumultuous sound that would eventually become rock ‘n’ roll.

Jerry González
June 5, 1949 – October 1, 2018

The ancestor of New York’s hard salsa scene, Bronx trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez and his group Fort Apache helped forge inseparable links between contemporary Latin music and jazz in the 1980s and 1990s. ‘he co-founded and directed, became a launching pad for Latin jazz artists of the time.

Hamiet Bluiett
September 16, 1940 – October 4, 2018

By straddling the line between traditional and avant-garde jazz, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Blueitt introduced a generation of jazz enthusiasts to the phenomenon of free improvisation. His World Saxophone Quartet, which he co-founded in 1977, was one of the most important woodwind ensembles in jazz.

Sonny Fortune
May 19, 1939 – October 25, 2018

A disciple of John Coltrane, saxophonist Sonny Fortune has become a prominent voice in jazz, collaborating with former Trane bandmates Elvin Jones, Reggie Workman and McCoy Tyner. But his unique identity on the horn made him a musical force to be reckoned with, and his career spanned genres ranging from bebop to free jazz and beyond.

Roy Hargrove
October 16, 1969 – November 2, 2018

Trumpeter Roy Hargrove was an extremely talented trumpeter whose melodic, groove-centric style bridged the divide between upright jazz, hip-hop and R&B. He made it his mission to develop a musical language that would usher in the future of jazz, which meant embracing the sounds of contemporary American pop.

Nancy wilson
February 20, 1937 – December 13, 2018

Singer Nancy Wilson’s supple voice, natural storytelling abilities, and willingness to transcend musical boundaries have made her a sensation in the jazz and pop worlds. And for her work as an activist and philanthropist, she was inducted into the International Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2005. There are, unfortunately, a handful other names that could have been added to this elevator, and to these artists, we offer our deep appreciation. As with the musicians above – and as with every creative person who turns the imagination into reality – we are better at appreciating their art.

Feature image courtesy of Carol Friedman

Ada J. Kenney