Monday, July 26, 2021

2021b - Jazz musicians felled by coronavirus -- Chapter 5 (updated 9-10-21)

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. 
  • Paris-born guitarist, singer and producer Jacob Desvarieux died July 30 in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadaloupe. He was 66. Desvarieux co-founded the  zouk band Kassav’, which played a mix of jazz, Caribbean folk, rumba, soukous, discos and funk that was popular in the 1980s in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. The band performed at several international jazz festivals.
  • Washington DC-based drummer and bandleader Howard “KingFish” Franklin Jr., died August 18. He was 51. The hard-swinging drummer was given the nickname “KingFish” by his late mentor, Calvin Jones. Singer-pianist Shirley Horn’s drummer, Steve Williams, called him “Fishstix.” Over the years, he worked with a wide variety of jazz greats. 
  • Multi-instrumentalist Isaac Mkukupa, considered to be the father of jazz in Malawi, died August 22 in Nottingham, England. He was 78. He moved from Africa to the UK in 2009. In a career stretching back to at least the early 1970s, Mkukupa played bass, guitar, trombone and trumpet. 
  • Nashville session drummer and educator Kenny Malone died August 26 at age 83. While best known for his extensive work with top country and folk artists since the 1970s, Malone’s work brought him into every acoustic genre. He recorded with Ray Charles and Bela Fleck, among others. He was an instructor at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. During his 14 years in the US Navy, he played in the Navy Band in Washington DC and headed the percussion department at the School of Music for the Navy, Army and Marines. 
  • Cuban pianist, composer, singer and bandleader Adalberto Álvarez died August 31 at age 72 at the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana. Nicknamed “El Caballero del Son,” Álvarez was one of the most important figures in Cuban music in recent decades. He led the “Son 14” orchestra for five years before founding “Adalberto Álvarez y su son,” a group with which he made his mark on Cuban and Latin music, in 1984 He recorded about 20 albums. 
  • Sousaphonist Bennie Pete, leader and founding member of the Hot 8 Brass Band, died September 6 in New Orleans. He was 42. 
  • Cuban singer Ela Calvo died September 7 at age 89. She was known as “The Lady of the Cuban song.” She was a star of Havana’s Tropicana cabaret, where she shared the stage with Luis Carbonell, Elena Burke and the Los Meme Quartet. Her career, which began in the late 1950s, included work on radio, television and nightclubs. She recorded with Andrés Echevarría’s jazz orchestra.
Here are links to the chronology: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

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