The Jazz Legends we lost in 2013

I’ve become rather slow to find out about things since I gave up buying  newspapers regularly. That’s why I only found out yesterday that Jazz musician Yusef Lateef had passed away on 23rd December, at the age of 93. He had a good innings, but it’s still sad to lose someone who was there at the birth of the modern era of jazz; Lateef played with Dizzy Gillespie’s band way back in the 1940s before going on to carve out his own career as a bandleader and a pioneering figure in the development of world music.

The death of Yusef Lateef got me thinking about all the other great jazz  musicians who also passed away in 2013 to whom I haven’t yet found time to pay tribute. The list I’ve selected is sadly rather long, and I could have included more. I’ve added links to examples of their playing:

  • Cedar Walton (August 19, aged 79).  Terrific piano player in the hard bop tradition, who came to prominence with Art Blakey’s band of the 1960s as pianist and arranger. Listen to him clearly enjoying himself playing Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll here.
  • Chico Hamilton (November 25, aged 92). Drummer and bandleader who, among many other things, sought to merge jazz with classical forms (e.g. by bring a flute and cello into his band). Check out Blue Sands Live , recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958.
  • Jim Hall (December 10, aged 83). Brilliant jazz guitarist, also played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958, with Jimmy Giuffre and Bob Brookmeyer on The Train and the River.
  • Donald Byrd (February 4, aged 80). Began his career as a bebop trumpeter, but later moved towards a more popular jazz funk/rhythm & blues/fusion style. Listen to him on his famous Blue Note recording of Cristo Redentor.
  • Marian McPartland (August 20, aged 95). British born pianist who presented a long-running radio series on piano jazz on US Radio. Here she is playing a duet with Dave Brubeck. You might just recognize the tune!
  • Stan Tracey (December 6, aged 86). Uniquely gifted British pianist with an instantly recognizable style.  House pianist at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London for many years, in which role he earned the respect and admiration of the very best musicians in the world.The one musician on this list that I’ve seen live. I’ve seen him several times, in fact, and could never take my eyes off his hands:

People such as these are irreplaceable, of course, but at least they will live on in our hearts through their music. I hope they all knew how much we loved them.

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One Response to “The Jazz Legends we lost in 2013”

  1. All great musicians! Great to rememrer them.

    Some pictures:
    Yusef Lateef in Pori Jazz 1972: http://wp.me/p1jVlh-1eE
    Cedar Walton in Pori Jazz 1976: http://wp.me/p1jVlh-1Hy

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