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Notes on Jazz's Annual 4th of July Living Legends of Jazz Celebration

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Jimmy Cobb photo by Lena Ashasheva ©2013

Another year has passed since Notes on Jazz published its annual Living Legend of Jazz feature. This is the fourth such compilation, a yearly reminder and a joyful celebration of the artistry and longevity of jazz artists that have been living in our midst. With each year we marvel at some familiar new members who have entered into the ranks of the Living Legends. The criteria are uncomplicated, simply induct any musician, working or retired who has reached their seventieth birthday and has contributed to the canon of the music, keeping the spirit and tradition of the music alive. They could be relatively obscure or internationally recognized, but in their own way they made a difference. Many of us grew up with these artists and have followed their careers through the years. As this is an organic list, ever-changing, like the music, its ranks are added to and depleted each year. Sadly, since last July 4th, ,we have continued to lose some of these great artists to the ravages of time. It is only right that we take a moment to document and recognize their passing. Their spirit lives on in everyone who has ever had the privilege of hearing them play; either in live performance or on recordings. Their work will continue to inspire those who follow in their footsteps.The passing of some truly venerable legends include musicians, performers, innovators, teachers, producers and mentors who made an indelible mark on society at large and on the music in particular. Some were famous, some infamous and all will be missed.

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Dave Brubeck. Photo by John Abbott ©2013


Undoubtedly the most recognizable musician we lost from the fraternity of Jazz Legends since last July was the iconic pianist/composer Dave Brubeck, who passed one day prior to his ninety-second birthday on December 5, 2012. Brubeck's music crossed over to beyond the jazz audience with his ground-breaking album from 1959, titled Time Out, and its time transcendent song "Take Five." Another recognizable pianist, more famous in rock but clearly steeped in jazz influence, was the Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek who passed in Germany at the age of 74. His keyboard work on "Light My Fire" turned many rock listeners onto jazz sensibilities. The jazz world mourned the untimely passing of the great pianist Mulgrew Miller, on May 29, 2013 from a stroke at the alarmingly young age of 57. Millerm who worked with many famous artists, was the well-respected Director of Jazz Studies at William Patterson College.

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Mulgrew Miller. Photo by Fran Kaufman©2013

Ninety-two-year-old trombonist Herbie Harper, who passed in January 2012, once played with Benny Goodman and backed Billie Holiday. Two legends who passed in their ninetieth year left rich legacies. Guitarist Johnny Smith was so versatile he could sight read in the pit of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra or be just as comfortable jamming in a trio at the Birdland jazz club. His guitar designs are still prized by players of the instrument. Guitarist Pete Cosey, who was the electric sound behind many of Miles Davis' later works, passed in May at the age of 68. Trombonist Eddie Bert was so prolific his sound could be heard in the bands of Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton; he passed in September 2012. Two other trombonist that passed last year included Edwin Marshall and Santo "Sonny" Russo, both 83. Eighty-two-year-old bassist Ben Tucker, who was killed in an automobile accident this past year, played with saxophonists Art Pepper and Warne Marsh.

Two trumpet players of note were lost this past year. Donald Byrd, who pioneered the use of funk and soul in jazz, died at the age of 80 on February 4, 2013. One-time Mingus trumpeter Ted Curson passed in November at the age of 77.

Several notable saxophonists were lost last year; they include Chicago stalwart Earle "Von" Freeman who was playing actively until he passed in August at the age of 88. Tenor saxophonist Dick Hafer, an alumnus of the Charles Mingus, Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman bands, to name a few, passed in December at the age of 85. Seventy-nine-year-old English soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill passed in Julym and Danish free saxophonist John Tchicai passed in October in France at the age of 76. The sweet sound of Sam Most's flute will be heard no more; the prolific studio musician who was on countless albums passed this year at the age of 82.

The drummer Pete LaRoca Sims, who played with saxophone titans Sonny Rollins, Jackie McClean, Charles Lloyd and John Coltrane, passed in November at the age of 74. Drummer and influential teacher Freddie Gruber passed in October at the age of 84. Drummer Sonny Igoe who worked with Woody Herman and Benny Goodman passed at the age of 88. Ed Shaughnessy, who was the mainstay drummer of the big band on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, left us this year at the age of 84. Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar player that introduced the Carnatic rhythms of his homeland to Western artists, influencing musicians from the Beatles to John Coltrane, (Coltrane named his son Ravi after Mr. Shankar) was 92. Just last month we lost the beautiful baritone of Bobby "Blue" Bland at the age of 83. Melvin Ryne, whose B3 organ sounds accompanied the great Wes Montgomery, passed at the age of 76.

The music has proven time and again that despite losing its legends to the inevitable vagaries of time, it is a durable art form. As some pass through, there are always others who enter our world introducing new ideas and fresh musical concepts. The music continues to expand, organically thriving with every generation. New musicians create from the infrastructure laid down by those who have blazed the path before them ensuring that the music, however mutated it becomes, still is built from the terra firma of the tradition.

I continue to believe that jazz is an art form that has become the most internationally cooperative means of communication in the world today. As artists and listeners alike have found out it can be a tremendously spiritual medium allowing us to transcend everyday life with beauty and connectivity.

On this Fourth of July, let our passion for the music continue with this yearly celebration of these communicators, those who have been and continue to be so instrumental in bringing us this music we love so much.

Here is my expanded list of veteran players, all at least 70 years of age, who in some way helped shape the music. I am sure to have missed some worthy contributors. I apologize in advance for any inadvertent omissions. This is the fourth year I have complied this list and with each year, with the help of readers like you, it has become more expansive. I welcome comments from readers who may know of deserving musicians who should be added to this list. Finally a great big thank you to each and every one of this year's celebrants.

LIVING JAZZ LEGENDS: July 4, 2013

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Gary Bartz. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

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Frank Wess. Photo by Fran Kaufman ©2013

Saxophonists/Reed Instruments:

Maceo Parker (70), Eddie Daniels, clarinet and saxophone (71); Pharaoh Sanders, Gary Bartz, Peter Brotzmann, Roscoe Mitchell and Bennie Maupin (72); Masabumi Kikuchi, Arthur Bythe, Hamiet Bluiett, Wilton Felder, Joe McPhee, Charles McPherson, Carlos Ward, Paul Winter and Lew Tabakin (73); Odean Pope, Zibigniew Namyslowski, Charles Gayle, Sonny Fortune and George Braith (74)

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Lee Konitz. Photo by John Abbottt ©2013

Gunter Hampel, James Spaulding, Charles Lloyd, Carlos Garnett, Joseph Jarman (75); Archie Shepp, Nathan Davis, Frank Strozier and Jim Galloway (76); Klaus Doldinger, Gary N. Foster, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre and Don Menza (77); Giuseppi Logan, Jimmy Woods, Houston Person, George Coleman and Bunky Green (78); Lanny Morgan and Wayne Shorter (79); Sadao Watanabe, Charlie Davis, Gato Barbieri and John Handy III (80); Phil Woods and Plas Johnson Jr.(81); Sonny Rollins (82); Ornette Coleman and Gabe Baltazar (83); Joe Temperley, Harold Ousley, Herb Geller and Benny Golson (84); Carl Janelli, Lee Konitz and Bob Wilber (85); Big Jay McNeeley, Med Flory, Lou Donaldson and Jimmy Heath (86); Marshall Allen (89); Frank Wess (91); Yusef Lateef (92); Harold Joseph "Hal" "Cornbread" Singer (93); Fred Staton (98).

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George Coleman. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

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Fred Staton. Photo by Ralph A. Miriello ©2013

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Wayne Shorter. Photo by John Abbott ©2013

Pianists:

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Chick Corea. Photo by Fran Kaufman ©2013

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Herbie Hancock. Photo by Fran Kaufman ©2013

Kenny Barron, Mike Ratledge, Dave Greenslade and Ben Sidran (70); Connie Crothers, Stanley Cowell, Armando "Chick" Corea, Mike Nock, Sergio Mendes, Irene Sweizer and David Burrell (72), Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Charles Brackeen and Roger Kellaway (73), McCoy Tyner,
Mike Longo, Joe Sample, Gap Mangione, Jon Mayer, Joanne Brackeen and Warren Bernhardt (74)

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Cedar Walton. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

Denny Zeitlin, Steve Kuhn and John Coates Jr. (75); Eddie Palmieri and Kirk Lightsey (76);
Les McCann, Carla Bley and Harold Mabern (77); Ramsey Lewis, Pat Rebillot, Ran Blake,
Don Friedman, Oliver Jones, Ellis Marsalis Jr. and Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Dave Grusin and Misha Mengelberg (78); Pat Moran (McCoy) and Cedar Walton (79); Paul Bley and Larry Novak (80); Bengt Hallberg, Jack Reilly, Derek Smith and Michel LeGrand (81); Muhal Richard Abrams and Horace Parlan (82); Amhad Jamal, Frank Strazzeri, Claude Bolling, Barry Harris and Toshiko Akiyoshi (83); Cecil Taylor, Horace Silver and Junior Mance (84); Freddie Redd, Martial Solal, Richard Wyands and Mose Allison (85); Dick Hyman and Claude Williamson (86); Randy Weston and Boyd Lee Dunlop (87); Reynold "Zeke" Mullins and Barbara Carroll (88); Paul T. Smith and Marty Napoleon (92); Bebo Valdes (94); Marian McPartland (95).

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McCoy Tyner. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

Bassists:

Jack Bruce (70); Charles "Buster" Williams (71); Glen Moore and Steve Swallow (72); Ed "Butch" Warren, Don Thompson and Eberhard Weber (73); Mario Pavone (74); Larry Ridley, Reggie Workman

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Buster Williams. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

and Charlie Haden (75); Ron Carter, Chuck Berghofer, and Chuck Israels (76); Buell Nedlinger and Henry Grimes (77); Gary Peacock and Cecil McBee (78); Bob Cranshaw and Jack Six (80); Ron Crotty and Richard Davis (84); Bill Crow (85); Jymie Merritt (87); Eugene "The Senator" Wright (90); Howard Rumsey (95); Coleridge Goode (98).

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Marvin Stamm. Photo by Ralph A. Miriello ©2013

Trumpet/Cornet/ Flugelhorn:

Jimmy Owens and Michael Mantler (70); Charles Tolliver (71); Eddie Henderson, Palle Mikkelborg and Chuck Mangione (72); Enrico Rava (73); Marvin Stamm and Hugh Masekela (74); Guido Basso (75); Ed Polcer (76); Bobby Bradford (78); Jack Sheldon and Dusko Gojkovic (81); Alphonso "Dizzy" Reece, Louis Smith and Ira Sullivan (82); Sam Noto and Kenny Wheeler (83); Carl "Doc" Severinson (85); Joe Wilder (91); Clark Terry (92); Thomas Jefferson (93); Gerald Wilson (94); Lionel Ferbos (101 -- 102 on July 17th)

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Jim Hall. Photo by Fran Kaufman ©2013

Guitarists

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George Benson, Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine (70); James Blood Ulmer and John McLaughlin (71); Jerry Hahn (72); Ralph Towner (73); Gene Bertoncini and Joe D'Iorio (76); Sonny Greenwich (77); Ed Bickert (80); Kenny Burrell (81); Jim Hall, Joao Gilberto and John Pisano (82); Martin "Marty" Grosz (83); Eddie Duran and Bucky Pizzarelli (87); Mundell Lowe (91).

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Dick Griffin. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

Trombonists:

Fred Wesley (70); James "Dick" Griffin, Wayne Henderson and Billy Watrous (73); Grachan Moncur III, Phillip Elder Wilson and "Big" Bill Bissonnette (76); Roswell Rudd (77); Julian Priester and Curtis Fuller (78); Locksley "Slide" Hampton (81); George "Buster" Copper (84); Harold Betters and Conrad Janis (85); George Masso and Urbie Green (86).

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Billy Hart. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

Drummers/Percussionists

Jack DeJohnette, Barry Altschul and Michael Gils (70); Han Bennik and Malcolm Pinson (71); Billy Hart (72); Andrew Cyrille, Ginger Baker, Pierre Courbois, Ron Free and Idris Muhammad (73); Bernard Purdie, Issac "Redd" Holt, Nesbert "Stix" Hooper (74); Tony Oxley, Horace Arnold, Paul Ferrara and Daniel Humair (75), Louis Hayes, Pierre Favre, James "Sunny" Murray, Charly Antolini, Colin Bailey and Roy McCurdy (76); Albert "Tootie" Heath and Chuck Flores (78); Donald "Duck" Bailey, Ben Riley, Colin Bailey and Ray Mosca (79); Mickey Roker, Frank Capp and Grady Tate (81); Ronnie Bedford (82), John Armatage (83); Hal Blaine, Jimmy Cobb, Charlie Persip (84); Frankie Dunlop (85); Joe Harris (86); Roy Haynes and Samuel "Dave" Bailey (87); Armando Peraza (89); Percy Brice and Al Harewood (90); Foreststorn "Chico" Hamilton and Candido Camero (91).

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Roy Haynes. Photo by Fran Kaufman ©2013

Organists:

Mac "Dr John" Rebennack (72); "Papa" John De Francesco, Brian Auger (73); Rhoda Scott (76); Reuben Wilson (78); and Sir Charles Thompson (95).

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Tony Bennett. Photo by John Abbott ©2013

Jazz Vocalists:

Joni Mitchell (70); Gilberto Gil (71); Janet Lawson (72); Astrud Gilberto, Al Jarreau and Mary Stallings (73); Andy Bey (74); Ruth Price and Ellyn Ruker (75); Nancy Wilson, Carol Sloane, Karin Krog and Sathima Bea Benjamin (76); Marlene Ver Planck and David Frishberg, piano/vocals (80); Freddy Cole and Mark Murphy (81); Gloria Lynne (81); Annie Ross and Helen Merrill (82); Sheila Jordan and Ernestine Anderson (84); Cleo Laine, Jackie Cain and Ernie Andrews (85); Tony Bennett (86); Bill Henderson and Jimmy Scott (87); Bob Dorough (89); Jon Hendricks (91); Herb Jeffries (99).

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Andy Bey. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

Artists on Other Instruments:

Gary Burton, vibraphonist and Michal Urbaniak, violinist (70); Jean Luc Ponty, violinist (71); Bobby Hutcherson and Roy Ayers, vibraphonists and Lonnie Liston Smith, keyboardist (72); Hubert Laws, flautist (73); Perry Morris Robinson, clarinetist, Gunter Hampel, multi-instrumentalist,

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Toots Thielmans. Photo by John Abbott ©2013

Charlie Shoemake, vibraphonist, Dave Pike, vibraphonist/marimba and Mike Maineri, vibraphonist (75); Hermeto Pascoal, accordion & keyboards (77); Reuben Wilson, organist (77); Joe Licari, clarinetist (78); Sonny Simmons sax and English Horn, Warren Chiasson vibraphonist (79); Emil Richards, vibes and percussion (80); David Baker composer/cellist (81); Frank Marocco, accordion, Pierre "Pete" Fountain, clarinetist (82); Michael White, violinist, Rolf Kuhn, clarinetists and Paul Horn, flautist (83); Bernard "Acker" Bilk, clarinetist, Peter Appleyard, vibraphonist and Andre Previn conductor/pianist (84); Terry Gibbs, vibraphonist, George Wein, pianist/concert promoter

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George Wein. Photo by Lena Adasheva ©2013

and Rudy Van Gelder, recording engineer (88); Sammy Nestico pianist/arranger and Buddy DeFranco, clarinetist (89); Lorraine Gordon, music producer and owner of the Village Vanguard (90); Jean "Toots" Thielmans, harmonica/guitar/whistler (91); Svend Asmussen, violinist (97).

Many thanks to photographers Lena Adasheva, Fran Kaufman and
John Abbott for graciously allowing me to use their wonderful photographs.