In Memoriam: Jazz artists we lost in 2020

The last days of 2020 offer a moment of reflection on the year of jazz. This year has been particularly difficult to manage. On the one hand, we take 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 review and broadcast picks. live from the best albums of the year. But in all things joyful there is often a core of sadness, and it’s now that we stop to remember some of the iconic jazz artists who bid us 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 2019 through the music they so nobly left behind.

Jimmy heath
October 25, 1926 – January 19, 2020

A saxophonist and conductor whose soft and melodic playing bridged the era of bebop and modern jazz. Read more.

Claudio Roditi
May 28, 1946 – January 17, 2020

A Brazilian trumpeter whose fluidity on the horn places him squarely in the company of icons like Art Farmer, Clifford Brown and Chet Baker. Read more.

Lyle mays
November 27, 1953 – February 10, 2020

A pioneering keyboardist and composer whose long-standing partnership with guitarist Pat Metheny has resulted in one of the most avant-garde jazz of our time. Read more.

Mccoy tyner
December 11, 1938 – March 6, 2020

A pianist with a thundering left hand and a pioneering approach to accompaniment, and a longtime member of the iconic John Coltrane Quartet. Read more.

Marcelo Peralta
March 5, 1961 – March 10, 2020

An Argentinian saxophonist whose music has fused traditional jazz with folk music from his home country, and who is widely regarded as the first victim of COVID-19 in jazz.

Manu Dibango
December 12, 1933 – March 24, 2020

A Cameroonian saxophonist who helped popularize Afrobeat-jazz and whose 1972 hit “Soul Makossa” will inspire musicians from Michael Jackson to Rihanna. Read more.

Ray mantilla
June 22, 1934 – March 21, 2020

A New York-born percussionist and conguero with a style that straddles salsa, funk, rock and jazz.

Wallace roney
May 25, 2020 – March 31, 2020

A trumpeter whose close mentorship with Miles Davis has been a guiding force in his career, but whose musical style has remained fiercely independent. Read more.

Ellis Marsalis
November 13, 1934 – April 1, 2020

A New Orleans-born pianist with a propulsive touch and a deeply rooted sense of swing, and the patriarch of the Marsalis musical family. Read more.

Bucky Pizzarelli
January 9, 1926 – April 1, 2020

A guitarist whose unprecedented solo and duo work has helped preserve the art of traditional jazz guitar. Read more.

Lee konitz
October 13, 1927 – April 15, 2020

An alto saxophonist and composer whose work was an amalgamation of bebop à la Charlie Parker, cool West Coast jazz and avant-garde. Read more.

Tony Allen
July 20, 1940 – April 30, 2020

A Nigerian drummer whose unique rhythmic concepts gave birth to the Afrobeat movement. Read more.

Richie cole
February 29, 1948 – May 2, 2020

A brilliant sounding, flowing style alto saxophonist whose playing has enlivened the groups of Doc Severinsen, Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton.

Jimmy cobb
January 20, 1929 – May 24, 2020

A drummer whose innovative approach to the ride cymbal and ingrained sense of swing were notable characteristics of recordings conducted by Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery. Read more.

Freddy cole
October 15, 1931 – June 27, 2020

A pianist and singer whose warm and cheerful music made him a distinguished performer, while helping to carry on the legacy of his brother, Nat King Cole. Read more.

Johnny mandel
November 23, 1925 – June 29, 2020

A composer whose work has been performed by Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett and Barbara Streisand, and whose notable songs include “The Shadow of Your Smile” and the theme of MASH POTATOES Read more.

Helen Jones Woods
November 14, 1923 – July 25, 2020

A pioneering trombonist who gave dynamic impetus to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the country’s first integrated all-female jazz group.

Steve grossman
January 18, 1951 – August 13, 2020

A fluent bop and fusion saxophonist whose crisp style can be found on the recordings of Miles Davis and Elvin Jones.

Gary Peacock
May 12, 1935 – September 4, 2020

A bassist whose elegant playing made the nuanced music of Albert Ayler, Paul Bley, Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarrett accessible to countless listeners. Read more.

Stanley crouching
December 14, 1945 – September 16, 2020

A writer whose groundbreaking research on Charlie Parker and strong opinions on the complexity and authenticity of jazz have made him one of the most widely read authors of the genre.

April 22, 1921 – November 7, 2020

A Cuban percussionist whose presence of groups led by Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton helped popularize Afro-Cuban jazz.

Stanley cowell
May 5, 1941 – December 17, 2020

Pianist also versed in upright and avant-garde jazz, and co-founder of Strata-East Records. There are, unfortunately, many more names that could have been added to this list, and to these artists we offer our deepest gratitude. As with the musicians above – and as with every creative person who turns the imagination into reality – we are better at appreciating their art.

Featured Image Courtesy of Bruce Weber

Ada J. Kenney