Tuesday, July 27, 2021

1960s anger and disillusionment fuel hope

Singer Synia Carroll celebrated the life and music of the late, great Nina Simone on Monday, July 26 in Sarasota FL with a concert fueled by the High Priestess of Soul’s blend of anger, disillusionment and passion – and Carroll’s optimism for a better day.

Synia Carroll
The Nina on my Mind … and I’m Feelin’ Good! show at Florida Studio Theatre’s cozy Court Cabaret in downtown Sarasota teamed Carroll with five of the region’s ace jazz musicians: trumpeter James Suggs, pianist John O’Leary, bassist Brandon Robertson, percussionist Patrick Hernly and drummer/musical director Paul Gavin. They also backed her at St. Petersburg’s Palladium Theater three nights earlier.

Carroll & Co. dug deep into the Simone repertoire for the full house crowd in attendance. As Simone’s artful and activist legacies inspired and required, the night’s music ranged from angry and passionate to teasing and joyful. The lyrics, coupled with Carroll’s powerful delivery and stories, underscored that the pain and frustration of the civil rights movement that Nina Simone sang about in the 1960s remain today.

James Suggs, Synia Carroll

The material included “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl,” “Be My Husband,” “I Loves You, Porgy” from “Porgy and Bess” (with a sublime piano solo from O’Leary), and a thundering take on “Sinner Man.”

The first set concluded with “Why? (The King of Love is Dead),” which Simone’s bass player, Gene Taylor, wrote right after he heard about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. It wound down with Carroll rhetorically asking “Why does it have relevance in 2021, when it was written 50 years ago?” as the band backed her with a few bars from “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Paul Gavin

Synia Carroll

The second set opened with Gavin’s solo take on drummer Art Blakey’s “Freedom Rider” and the band’s exhilarating cover of a Carroll concert staple, Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue.” These complementary choices set the tone for the remainder of this Simone-powered evening. 

“Hush a Bye” and “Brown Baby” set up the frustration-inspired Simone classic “Mississippi Goddam,” and “Four Women,” which Simone wrote about different African-American stereotypes. The night concluded with the optimism-prevails lyrics of “I’m Feelin’ Good."

“Even in the face of reality, this evening is about hope,” Carroll said. “Hope is my music. Learn from the past, acknowledge what needs to be done to make things better, and get to work. Hope is why I’m here tonight. We can all make a difference."

O'Leary, Robertson, Carroll, Hernly, Suggs, Gavin

Monday, July 26, 2021

2021b - Jazz musicians felled by coronavirus -- Chapter 5

Here is part five of our chronological listing of jazz-related COVID-19 deaths from the novel coronavirus, updated as we receive them. This segment begins with deaths in July 2021. Chapter 4 lists deaths in the first half of the year.  Parts one, two and three contain 2020's 63 known losses.Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember their musical legacies.
  • South African singer-songwriter Steve Kekana died July 1 in a Johannesburg hospital. He was 62. After losing his eyesight at age 5, Kekana developed his love for singing while attending a school for the blind. He recorded more than 40 albums in Mbaqanga, jazz and R&B styles between 1977 and 2018.
  • Indonesian jazz guitarist and educator Beben Jazz died July 5 in Bekasi, West Java. He was 54. Beben Supendi Mulyana, aka Beben Jazz, also sang and played trumpet. He was a founder of Jakarta’s Kemayoran Jazz Community.
  • Singer and songwriter Tsepo Tshola died July 15 at a hospital in Teyateyaneng in his native Lesotho, a mountain kingdom that is surrounded by South Africa. He was 67. Also known as the “Village Pope,” Tshola came to prominence with the jazz group Sankomota, which he co-founded and co-led with the late Frank Leepa in the late 1970s. He launched his solo career in 2002. He performed for more than 40 years, primarily in Lesotho, South Africa and Europe.
  • South African pianist and educator Andre Petersen died July 22 age 43. He was the only African musician out of 68 pianists to compete in 2011's Concours de Piano-jazz Martial Solal Competition in Paris. Johannesburg-based Petersen’s international recording and performance credits include working with Stefon Harris, Reggie Washington, Dave Liebman, Marcus Strickland, the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra and Norwegian avant-garde band Soyr.
Here are links to the chronology: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A sad milestone....

Today brought news of at least the 100th jazz-related death from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 

Singer and songwriter Tsepo Tshola died today (July 15) at a hospital in Teyateyaneng in his native Lesotho, a mountain kingdom that is surrounded by South Africa. He was 67. He performed for more than 40 years, primarily in Lesotho, South Africa and Europe. 

 I have a few more details in Chapter 4 of my COVID log.  

Tshola's was the 100th such death that I have been able  to document. I fear there may have been more, because not all obits or death notices list a cause.

Here are links to the chronology: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.

Friday, July 9, 2021

The thirst for live jazz performances is back

Thursday night, July 8, saw another full house at The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in downtown Fort Myers for the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quartet. It was the band's fifth week back at the rathskeller-style room after a 15-month lull because of the pandemic.

Lew Del Gatto, Tony Vigilante

The band is top-notch, featuring trumpeter Miller, tenor saxophonist Del Gatto, bassist Brandon Robertson and drummer Tony Vigilante. On this night, they had one guest musician sit in for most of the evening: Terumasa Hino

Dan Miller

The trumpeter, who lives part of the year in southwest Florida, brings his own brand of musical personality and high-octane musicality to the stage. It is always good to hear him, though these opportunities soon will pause. Hino returns to Japan at the end of the month for club and concert tours. He won't be back in Florida until sometime in December.

Brandon Robertson
Terumasa Hino
He really gets into the music, even when not soloing. When the band performed "Green Dolphin Street," shifting at times into a rhumba, he was swaying and dancing in place to the Cuban dance beat. At one point in the second set, he left the stage, borrowed my empty wine glass, and used it as a mute, giving his solo a dark, rich tone.

This band at this venue never disappoints. The musical chemistry is solid, and there is always something unexpected.

Kudos to venue owners Steve and Denise Hollister for helping keep live jazz and blues performances thriving in the City of Palms.

Terumasa Hino with the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto quartet

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Newport beckons (updated)

Nothing tells me more that the pandemic’s extended jazz pause is over than the arrival later this month of the 2021 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival. There was none in 2020, a tough year for musicians and live-music fans alike across North America and around the globe.

Virtually all festivals and in-person concerts were cancelled after mid-March, giving rise to a steady output of streamed performances from venues (with audiences), or in a lot of cases, from musicians’ living rooms, stoops, driveways, or socially distanced spaces in public parks.

But Newport is back, albeit with health protocols in place, and only 60 percent capacity allowed at Fort Adams State Park overlooking Newport Harbor and the graceful span of the Sen. Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge in the distance. The attendance limit means the fort can accommodate 6,000 jazz fans, compared to years when 10,000 was a sellout. And there will be just two stages compared to the four in a normal festival year.
Speaking of numbers, this will be my 40th consecutive trip to Newport Jazz since founding producer George Wein brought the festival back to Newport in 1981 after a 10-year absence. Over the years, I have covered it as a writer and/or photographer for a wide array of publications. They have included United Press International, Jazz Times, Offbeat, Swing Journal, allaboutjazz.com, and of course, this Jazz Notes blog. 

Here is a link to the three-day Newport schedule for 2021, which runs July 30-August 1. Music  is scheduled from noon to 7:30.p.m. on the Lawn Stage (the festival’s main stage, previously called the Fort Stage) and 11:20 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. on the Quad Stage, which is set up on the parade ground inside the stone walls of Fort Adams.

Charles Lloyd

Headliners include saxophonists Charles Lloyd, Chris Potter and Kamasi Washington (the latter replacing Wynton Marsalis on the bill); singers Ledisi (performing music from her new Nina Simone project), Catherine Russell, Mavis Staples and Andra Day, fresh from her award-winning performance in the film The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Then there’s Trombone Shorty with his band Orleans Avenue, festival artistic director & bassist Christian McBride (with two different bands), artist-in-residence Robert Glasper, drummers Makaya McCraven and Terri Lyne Carrington, and pianist Arturo O’Farrill’s Latin jazz quintet.

Additions announced in early July include the Kenny Barron- Dave Holland-Johnathan Blake trio, trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, David Ostwald's Louis Armstrong Eternity Band, singers Danielle Ponder and Avery*Sunshine, and a Vibes Summit with Warren Wolf, Joel Ross and Sasha Berliner.

Younger artists on the bill who I’ve yet to hear include the Bogie Band (led by saxophonist Stuart Bogie) featuring drummer Joe Russo, the Texas trio Khruangbin, guitarist Cory Wong, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, and genre-bending British singer Yola.

There will be no Friday night event at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Newport Jazz Festival expects to return to its full scale and scope in 2022.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Back to The Barrel Room

What a night it was in downtown Fort Myers FL. Thursday evening, June 17, was just the second time back on stage at The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro for the Dan Miller-Lew Del Gatto Quartet.

Dan Miller, Brandon Robertson
Lew Del Gatto
The band has been featured at the venue every Thursday night for the past five years – except for a 15-month pandemic lull that ended last week. Thanks to vaccinations, a mask or two spotted in the full house, and a need to return to jazz normalcy, the regulars were enthusiastic and the band responded in kind. And, as always, there were a few surprises. You can never be sure who will sit in with the quartet, which features Miller on trumpet, Saturday Night Live alumn Del Gatto on tenor sax, bassist Brandon Robertson and hard-swinging drummer Tony Vigilante.

Rupert and Hino join the band
Tenor saxophonist Jeff Rupert, who heads the jazz studies program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and Japanese trumpeter Terumasa Hino, who spends a lot of the year living in Southwest Florida, joined them midway through the first set. Tenor player Gerald Augustin and trumpeter Bill Dowling expanded the band further in the second set.

Jeff Rupert, Terumasa Hino
Tony Vigilante
The wide-ranging, principally bop evening featured distinctive solos from each of them, as they explored material from Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others. A bit of the classical world was borrowed when they dug into Ferde Grofé’s “On The Trail,” which saxophonists Jackie McLean and Dexter Gordon brought into the jazz canon on their 1973 recording The Meeting (SteepleChase).

Favorite moments

  • A first set Jazz at the Philharmonic-style ballad medley, which has become a weekly staple with each of the horn players played a different ballad over the constant rhythm. On this night, Hino began with “Stella By Starlight,” Del Gatto picked up with “I Can’t Get Started,” Rupert added “Nancy With the Laughing Face” and Miller brought it to a close with “Embraceable You.” Each soloist dug deep into the melody and the meaning to bring out new facets to the music. It was nothing short of gorgeous.
  • The band’s take on Dameron’s jazz classic “On a Misty Night,” which the trumpeter based on the chord changes to “September in the Rain.”

Bill Dowling
Gerald Augustin
There was heat and fire as well, particularly on Miles Davis’s “Blues by Five,” Dizzy’s “Birk’s Works” and Kenny Dorham’s classic “Prince Albert.”

Welcome back to strong jazz in an intimate club setting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The winding road back to jazz normalcy (updated)

The journey back to jazz festivals performed to live audiences has many different approaches. No matter which on-ramp you choose, normalcy, as we know it after the extended pandemic pause, appears to be a year away.

Let’s look at some of the ways that festivals organizations, working with government health officials, are bringing their events back this season. Most have reduced capacity, fewer stages, fewer artists, and shorter hours than in the past. Social distancing and other good-health protocols are the norm in most cases.

Charles Lloyd
  • Newport: In its online presence and press releases, the granddaddy of jazz festivals has been using the wording “Newport Jazz 2021” and “Newport Jazz Presents.” They’ve avoided calling this year’s July 30-August 1 weekend “the Newport Jazz Festival” though many of us will continue to do so out of habit or tradition. The rationale: they have limited attendance to 60% of the usual 10,000 per-day capacity at Fort Adams State Park, dropped from four to two stages (the main Fort Stage and Quad Stage) and cut the number of acts from about 50 to twenty-something, so it may not feel the same as recent full-blown festivals. Headliners include Charles Lloyd, Kamasi Washington (replacing Wynton Marsalis on the bill), Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, artist-in-residence Robert Glasper, Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, Ledisi’s Nina Simone project, Chris Potter and Andra Day. There will be no Friday night event at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Newport Jazz Festival expects to return to its full scale in 2022.
  • Freihofer’s Jazz Festival: This event at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs NY usually has a lawn full of people, two stages (the ampitheater and the more-intimate daytime gazebo stage up the hill. This time out, June 26-27, the festival has reduced its hours and cut the lineup to four bands per day, all on the main stage. With capacity limited to about 30 percent inside the 5,200-seat shed, about 200 of the 3,400 unused fixed seats are being removed to create more access points - so people don’t have to crawl over each other to get to their assigned seats. Socially distanced “pods” are being marked for the lawn seating. Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, Joey Alexander and Hot Club of Saratoga perform on Saturday; Cécile McLorin Salvant, Al Di Meola, the all-woman superband Artemis and Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise on Sunday. 
    Robert Glasper
  • Telluride Jazz Festival: This longstanding festival in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains runs August 13-15. There will be a “hybrid venue” layout in Telluride Town Park – with socially distanced pods for those who want them, as well as general open area for those who feel comfortable with it. Organizers are maintaining the full attendance capacity of past years – by doubling the size of the site space. This year’s headliners include Robert Glasper, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Galactic.
    Terri Lyne Carrington
  • Labor Day Weekend: There will be no Chicago Jazz Festival in Grant Park this year. Bouncing back from last year's streamed event to remote viewers, the Detroit International Jazz Festival's 2021 event will have live audiences. A revised three-stage footprint allows for more open space and social distancing. The lineup includes Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Anat Cohen, Sean Jones, Kenny Garrett, and The Brubeck Brothers.
  • Monterey Jazz Festival: There will be a greatly reduced footprint for this popular September 24-26 northern California event at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Instead of eight stages scattered throughout the 20-acre site, performances will be limited to the main stage, the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena, with a 50% audience capacity. Headliners include George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, artist-in-residence Christian Sands, and Pat Metheny’s Side-Eye project.
  • New Orleans
    New Orleans #1
    : Shifts from spring to fall. The French Quarter Festival was moved from April to a September 30-October 2 run in the funky New Orleans neighborhood it has called home since 1984. More than 200 performances are scheduled on 19 stages. Headliners include Tank & The Bangas, Irma Thomas, the Soul Rebels, Kermit Ruffins and Rickie Lee Jones. The festival has eliminated some stages to improve crowd circulation and potential distancing, and will adhere to health guidelines require at the time. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival moved from the traditional late April-early May weekends to an October 8-17 schedule. No details have been announced yet on its lineup, staging and any capacity changes at JazzFest’s sprawling 75-acre Fairgrounds Race Track site. Satchmo SummerFest, scheduled July 31-August 1, has established capacity limits and requires attendee registration in advance or before entering the gates..

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Year Off? You'd Never Know It.

The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra capped its socially-distanced 2020-21 season at Artis-Naples on Wednesday, May 12 with a concert that featured singer Denise Donatelli. With strong support from the venue’s resident jazz sextet (with an added special guest), it showcased the Los Angeles-based singer’s superb no-frills vocal artistry.

Denise Donatelli
“Thanks for bringing me to Naples. Thanks for getting me out of the house,” Donatelli told band and the masked audience scattered throughout Hayes Hall. This was her first live concert gig in more than a year, but there was no rust in evidence. None at all.

Donatelli sings in service to the song and the lyrics. No vocal gymnastics. No needless scatting. None of the artifice or theatrics sometimes found in the cabaret world. This is a good thing. Her timing, her phrasing and her innate sense of swing were on full display and fit hand-in-glove with the band’s instrumental support.

Donatelli, Hart, Del Gatto
The NPJO includes tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey. For this performance, because several of Donatelli’s recent recordings have included a guitarist, they were joined by John Hart. A New York jazz scene mainstay for several decades with extensive experience backing singers, Hart is now a guitar lecturer at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. He fit right in with this high-powered band.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Greg Abate, Gabriel Alegria, Bruce Brown, and The 14 Jazz Orchestra....

Friday, May 7, 2021

La Lucha plus one

Ona Kirei  
The last time La Lucha played Port Charlotte FL, on June 14, 2019, the Tampa Bay-area jazz trio tore up the house, so to speak, at JD's Bistro. Since then, the restaurant has changed ownership and its name, but its commitment to music excellence continues.

On Thursday, May 6, La Lucha returned to the venue, now the Grill at 1951, with a special guest in tow. Pianist John O'Leary. bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman were joined by Barcelona-born singer Ona Kirei. She works with La Lucha on a semi-regular basis - either as a group, or in collaboration with individual members as the need arises.

Their simpatico was on full display through a wide range of jazz and Latin jazz material.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Glimmers of hope, turning a corner

This 2021 edition of Jazz Appreciation Month underscored the notion that we can’t take the music or its makers for granted. Especially after the past year: clubs shuttered temporarily or permanently, or forced to present music to their supporters virtually via webcasts because of limited or no live audiences. Musicians without steady gigs or, in some cases, any gigs for over a year. Or others performing from their living rooms, stoops, driveways and public parks to keep their chops – and sanity – hoping for support from real or virtual tip jars. The tragic number of jazz musicians and industry figures felled by COVID-19 reached at least 90 and still counting.

But there are glimmers of hope, of turning the corner. Some concerts and restaurant gigs have returned with a clear focus on social distancing, masks and other pandemic protocols. 

One of those good news stories occurred this past weekend in Savannah GA, when the city’s premier venue, Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant, reopened after a total shutdown that lasted more than 12 months.

Owners Stephen and Danielle Moore opened Good Times in 2017. It offered dining and live Tuesday through Sunday nights, plus a gospel brunch on Sundays. That was before COVID-19 struck. Rather than risk any viral impact on guests, employees or their relatives, executive chef and jazz fan Joe Randall locked the doors of the downtown venue on busy West Broughton Street in late March 2020.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

CDs of Note - Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CDs by Roderick Harper, Fred Hersch, Lisa Hilton, Dan Moretti, Omar Sosa and Veronica Swift ….

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The worldly art of jazz

Pianist (and abstract painter) Bill Buchman brought his Art of Jazz Quintet to Venice FL on Wednesday, March 10 for a concert that touched on many of the global influences that have become central to jazz. From its inception, the genre has absorbed – and welcomed – elements of other styles, and turned that musical melting pot into a rich gumbo.

Bill Buchman
His band for this socially distanced, outdoor concert at Plantation Golf & Country Club included Rick Aaron on flute, Rob Fors on bass, Chuck Parr on drums and Gerardo Velez on congas. The event was sponsored by Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota as part of its 25th anniversary season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A hard-swinging reminder that Woody evolved with the times

The Stardust Memories Big Band paid tribute to the musical legacy of clarinetist and bandleader Woody Herman on Tuesday, March 2 at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs FL. For this evening, and the prior night at Cambier Park in neighboring Naples, bandleader Craig Christman turned the reins over to baritone saxophonist Mike Brignola, who joined the band this season.

Stardust Memories Big Band in Bonita Springs
The highly regarded bari player was an integral member of Woody's band from 1981 until the leader's death in 1987. Since then, Fort Lauderdale--based Brignola has served as road manager and personnel director for the Woody Herman Orchestra under the leadership of tenor saxophonist Frank Tiberi.

His concert mix resulted in a hard-swinging reminder that Woody Herman evolved with the times over his band's 50-year run. Brignola had a lot from which to choose.Herman and his outfit recorded about 875 tunes between the late 1930s and his death in 1987.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Sharing some thoughts - and visuals - on Chick Corea

Has there been a more dominant, restlessly creative jazz explorer over the past 50 years than Chick Corea? I think not.

Chick Corea, Newport, 1998
The Clearwater FL-based pianist, composer, bandleader and educator passed away last Tuesday, February 9, from a rare form of cancer that his family said had only been diagnosed very recently. He was 79. Check out his Facebook posting, which includes a parting message.

The sheer variety of his compositions and band projects still astounds me. After he left trumpeter Miles Davis's band in 1970s to forge his own musical path, Corea's journey took many winding twists and turns. He continued exploring the electronic frontiers of jazz fusion with Return to Forever, and later, his Elektrik Band. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Pasquale Grasso visits the other Naples

Italian guitarist Pasquale Grasso grew up in the mountain town of Ariano Irpino, just 49 miles  northeast of the nearest major city, Naples. He's been playing guitar since age 4 and has developed a jazz- and classical-influenced mastery of his chosen instrument that is something to behold.

That talent brought him to another Naples, in southwest Florida, on Wednesday, February 10 for a concert showcasing his swinging artistry. He was special guest with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra as part of the sextet's All That Jazz series at Artis-Naples.

Pasquale Grasso
Guitar players were not the primary musical influence on young Grasso, who grew up in a southern Italy household that loved jazz. He was inspired by the sound of bebop pianists, including Bud Powell, Elmo Hope and Barry Harris. He won the Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition in 2015, just three years after moving to New York City, where he has enjoyed a busy career as a performer and educator. Pat Metheny, a jazz guitar god for many, is one of Grasso's biggest fans.

Now 32, Grasso shows a command of his instrument well beyond his age. His warm sound, complex harmonic lines, dexterity and improvisational skills blend into a masterful musicality.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

2021 - Jazz Musicians Felled By Coronavirus, Chapter 4 (updated 7-15-2021)

Here is part four of our chronological listing of jazz-related COVID-19 deaths from the novel coronavirus, updated as we receive them. Our profound sympathies to their families, friends and fans as we remember their musical legacies. Parts one, two and three contain 2020's 63 known losses.
  • Violinist, singer, arranger and educator Zoran Džorlev died January 2, 2021 in Skopje, Macedonia. He was 53. His music ranged from folk and pop to classical and jazz.
  • Latin Grammy-winning bandoneon player and composer Raul Jaurena died January 5. He was 79. He was a master of the button squeezebox that is the quintessential tango instrument. His music was a hybrid of the traditional tango of South America and tango nuevo. He moved from Uruguay to the United States in the 1980s, settling in the New York City area.
  • Trombonist, singer, bandleader and writer Burt Wilson died January 6 at age 87. Wilson started Sacramento’s Silver Dollar Jazz Band in 1949. The band helped incubate the area’s trad jazz scene, which led to formation of the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society and the Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee. Wilson also was a political activist, playwright, and former advertising executive. He moved from his native Sacramento to upstate New York in 2015. He died in a nursing home near Binghamton NY.
    Burt Wilson
  • British pianist, singer and vintage jazz expert Keith Nichols died January 21 in a London hospital. He was 75. He contracted COVID-19 after going into the hospital for unrelated issues.
  • Salt Lake City pianist, composer, singer and educator Courtney Isaiah Smith died January 25. He was 37. The prolific northern Utah musician’s career bridged the jazz, gospel and soul genres. He led his own quintet, worked in other bands and taught jazz piano at Utah State University, The University of Utah, Weber State and Westminster College.
  • African guitarist, singer and songwriter Wambali Mkandawire died January 31 in Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawii. The jazz and afro-beat musician was 70.
  • Czech composer, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist and singer Ladislav Štaidl died January 31 in a Prague hospital. He was 75. Štaidl wrote the music for 80 television and feature films, and composed some 200 songs. 
  • Pianist, composer and educator Uli Rennert died February 5 at age 60. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Rennert had lived in Graz, Austria since 1987, and became an Austrian citizen in 1993. He taught at the Jazz Institute at the Arts University of Graz and was also an artist in residence at Basel University in Switzerland. 
  • Trumpeter and bandleader Pauly Cohen died February 10 at home in Tamarac FL. He was 98,. Cohen played lead trumpet with the Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie orchestras. He led his own 18-piece big band in south Florida into his nineties.
  • Austrian concert promoter, tour manager and DJ Erich Zawinul died February 12 in a Vienna hospital at age 55. He was the son of late jazz keyboardist and bandleader Joe Zawinul. He brought a wide range of jazz, pop, rock and country stars to perform in Austria over the years. 
  • Saxophonist Richie Perez, a Bakersfield CA jazz fixture for 70 years, died February 16. He was 86. The Texas-born musician moved with his family to California at age 9. At 15, he auditioned for blues legend Muddy Waters in a Bakersfield motel room for a show that night at Rainbow Garden — and he got the gig. His parents wouldn’t let him go on the road after that singular performance.
  • New Jersey-based saxophonist Sal Spicola died on February 22. He was 72. He started playing saxophone professionally at age 15 for Chuck Berry, and by 19 he was touring with Lionel Hampton’s band. He was an alumnus of the Boston Pops, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, and the Mike Treni Big Band. He made multiple Broadway shows and tours, including “Cats,” “Me and My Girl,” ”Miss Saigon” and “Starlight Express.”  
  • English singer, pianist and writer Jean Darke died March 4 at age 88. She was the driving force behind Oxford’s Jazz at St Giles concert series, which has raised more than ₤40,000 (approximately $55,000) for charity since she founded it 10 years ago. She also wrote about music for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. Darke contracted Covid-19 in October. She recovered but the virus led to further complications. 
  • Serbian pianist and composer Sanja Ilić died March 7 in Belgrade, 20 days shy of his 70th birthday. Ilić was keyboardist in the Yugoslav band San in the early 1970s. He founded his world music group Balkanika in 1998. The band’s style combined elements of world, folk and medieval music with the strong rhythms of the Balkans into ethno jazz.
  • Singer and pianist Jo Thompson died March 9 in Montclair NJ at age 92. The Detroit native performed well into her 80s in a career that brought her to top cabaret rooms, nightclubs and supper clubs across the U.S. and around the world, often breaking racial barriers in the 1950s. She once was described as the "piano-playing Lena Horne." 
  • Trumpeter Elton Reyes died March 10 at his Okala FL home, where he had been quarantined with COVID-19. He was 43. Over his more than 20-year career, Reyes played lead trumpet in a variety of jazz groups in Central Florida. They included the Dan McMillion Jazz Orchestra, Phoenix Jazz Orchestra, the Space Coast Jazz Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Maynard Ferguson Tribute Band. He also played in salsa bands. 
  • Pianist, composer and bandleader Florentín Giménez died March 11 at age 95 in his native Paraguay. He learned to play the piano and joined Ramón Reyes’ Orchestra in 1945 at age 20. He stayed until 1947, when the Paraguayan Civil War forced him to flee to Argentina. He returned to Paraguay after the war and formed his first orchestra, “Ritmos de América” (America’s Rhythms). In 1950, he formed the 14-member orchestra “Florentín Giménez y su típica Moderna.” Because of his protests against the government, Giménez was labeled a communist and arrested in 1953. He was jailed for several months.  
  • Italian singer, guitarist, bandleader, composer and actor Raoul Casadei died March 13 at Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he had been hospitalized since March 2. He was 83.
  • Saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Eulalio Cervantes Galarza died March 14 at age 52 in Mexico City. He was a co-founder of the iconic Mexican rock band La Maldita Vecindad. His jazz collaborations included work with pianist Hector Infanzon, and guitarists Bill Laswell and Michael Brook. 
  • Czech pianist, composer and educator Antonin Bilý died March 17 in a Prague hospital at age 81. He taught at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague and was a founding member of Traditional Jazz Studio, a New Orleans-style trad jazz and swing band. 
  • Washington DC-based alto saxophonist Aaron Martin Jr. died March 18. He was 73. The free-jazz improviser was a pillar of the DC jazz community.
  • Trumpeter Cristián Cuturrufo, one of Chile’s most prominent jazz musicians, died March 19 at the Las Condes Clinic in Santiago. He was 48. He was a passionate promoter of jazz, producing the Las Condes Jazz Festival, which presented its 15th edition last month. The 2021 edition was presented online because of the pandemic. Cuturrufo also opened two Santiago jazz clubs, The Jazz Corner and Boliche Jazz.
  • Drummer and educator Buddy Deppenschmidt died March 20 in a hospice near his Doylestown PA home. He was 85. Deppenschmidt co-conceived and performed on the landmark 1962 Charlie Byrd-Stan Getz album Jazz Samba that started America‘s fascination with the bossa nova. The Grammy-winning record was the only jazz album ever to reach No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart.
  • Swedish alto saxophonist, music journalist and playwright Ingmar Glanzelius died March 28 at age 93. He played in a modern jazz quintet that accompanied Stan Getz and Lee Konitz on Sweden tours in the early 1950s. He wrote for Dagens Nyheter, a daily newspaper in Stockholm, until 2004. 
  • Brazilian singer, songwriter and politician Agnaldo Timóteo died April 3 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 84. He sang and recorded in the bolero and bossa nova genres, and had several romantic hits in his more than 50 recordings.  
  • Alto saxophonist Andy Fusco died April 5 in New York at age 73. His battle with COVID-19 last spring compromised his immune system, leading to serious health problems from which he couldn’t recover. The Buddy Rich Band alumnus (1978-1983) also played in the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Steve Smith’s Vital Information. He taught and directed the jazz ensemble at Kean University in Union NJ for 25 years.  
  • Brazilian trumpeter, composer and educator Manassés Aragão died April 18, his 40th birthday, in a hospital in Goiânia. He had been a member of Charanga Jazz, Chocolate Groove Band and Banda Pequi, as well as a guest musician with the Goiânia Symphony Orchestra.
  • Bassist Joe Long died April 21 at age 88. The New Jersey musician, whose birth name was Joseph Louis LaBracio, played bass guitar and sang background vocals in the Four Seasons from 1965 to 1975. Long then started his own rock band, LaBracio, and later formed the jazz band Jersey Bounce. 
  • Actor, singer, guitarist and bandleader Johnny Crawford died April 29 at age 75. He was one of Disney’s original Mousketeers, rose to prominence playing Mark McCain on the ABC-TV western The Rifleman, and was a teen idol pop singer in the 1960s. After a brief stint as the singer with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, he formed the Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra, an 11-member vintage dance band, in 1990. It recorded one album, 2008’s Sweepin’ the Clouds Away, and perfomed for more than 25 years. 
  • Indian jurist and jazz lover Soli Sorabjee died April 30 at age 91 in a New Delhi hospital. The judge, constitutional law expert, free speech and human rights advocate, and two-time attorney general of India, was a clarinetist and the first president of the Jazz India association. 
  • Arthur Pomposello, longtime host and cabaret/jazz talent manager at the Oak Room, the posh supper club in Manhattan’s Algonquin Hotel, died May 6. He was 85. He started as a bartender at the Algonquin in 1980. By the mid-to-late ‘80s, he was running the Oak Room. He left in 2002 after a dispute with management.
  • Promoter, writer and jazz historian Alexey Batashev died on May 14 at age 86. He wrote the groundbreaking book Soviet Jazz (Moscow, 1971), which S. Frederick Starr adapted and enhanced for the Western market as Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union. Batashev promoted American jazz artists visiting Russia in the 1970s and ‘80s, and Soviet jazz musicians visiting the United States in the late 1980s. He wrote dozens of articles for Jazz.Ru Magazine from its 1998 debut well into the 2000s. 
  • Samba icon Nelson Sargento died May 27 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at age 96. The singer, songwriter, actor and writer had been fully vaccinated since late February, but was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 21 after he was hospitalized in Rio.  
  • Namibian singer and songwriter Raymond Pande died June 28 at a hospital in Windhoek. He was 34. Pande was a former member of the Fu Jazz Band. The popular local Afro-jazz group has been credited with helping keep jazz alive in Namibia since 2007.
Here are links to Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 5.