Shirley Horn 1934-2005

Shirley Horn passed away Thursday at the age of 71. She had been battling diabetes for some time. Her history and accolades are covered on most major news sites. One of the best tributes is by Richard Harrington in today’s Washington Post. However, I’ve not seen much mention of what may be her final work: three bonus songs on the just-released compilation But Beautiful: The Best of Shirley Horn on Verve. The songs were recorded live at Au Bar, NYC in January 2005. What a testament to her talent and perseverance to be in such fine form at the age of 70.

Michael Kamen Dies

Composer Michael Kamen died yesterday after suffering from multiple sclerosis for several years. He was 55. Reports from news wires credit the Oscar-nominated man for his memorable work on the ‘Lethal Weapon’ films and ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, but I remember him best for his Concerto for Saxophone featuring David Sanborn CD in 1990. If memory serves, the Concerto was written by Kamen especially for Sanborn with whom he worked on the ‘Lethal Weapon’ films. Kamen also worked with Eric Clapton on those films, and I believe I remember Kamen stating at that time that he had planned on writing a Concerto for Guitar featuring Eric Clapton.

Kamen had a distinctive style in his compositions. It was easy to hear the music in a preview for an upcoming film and recognize that he was the man behind it. He is survived by his wife Sandra, two daughters, three brothers, and his father.

Bob Berg Dies

Saxman Bob Berg has passed away. Bob was killed in an automobile accident on Thursday. He was 51. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Bob played in bands with Horace Silver, Miles Davis, and Chick Corea among others. I’m guessing that others reading this have his early 90s, Grammy-nominated release Back Roads. I remember Bob’s strong tenor sound and am sorry to read this news.

Bob is survived by his wife, two children, brother, and mother. For more details, read the New York Times obituary. Verve Records has also posted the news.

Obituary: Nick Webb

LOS ANGELES (Variety) – Guitarist and composer Nick Webb, a founding member of the contemporary jazz group Acoustic Alchemy, died in London Thursday from cancer, the group’s publicist said. He was 43.
Webb, a native of England, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago, and at the time of his death was finishing work on the Grammy-nominated group’s 10th album, Positive Thinking, publicist David Millman said.
“Nick was a sweet, wonderful man and a wonderful friend,” said Webb’s chief collaborator, Greg Carmichael, who formed Acoustic Alchemy with Webb in 1987.

“Though this past year was quite difficult for him, Nick managed to write some of the most beautiful music of his life. If there’s any silver lining, it’s knowing that, ’till the very end, he was doing what he loved and that he was surrounded by his adoring family,” Carmichael said in a statement.

Webb is survived by his wife, Kay, and their daughter, Alexandra. Private services were held in his home county of Wiltshire, England.

Obituary: Zachary Breaux 1960-1997

Zachary Charles Breaux died February 20, 1997 after attempting to save a drowning woman in the ocean off Miami Beach. According to the Associated Press, Breaux suffered a heart attack after being brought to shore. The woman also died. Breaux had previously saved a man from drowning, while on tour in Italy in 1988.

Zachary Breaux was born in Port Arthur, Texas. He began playing guitar at the age of 11 after practicing the clarinet for two years. His interest in jazz was inspired by his high school band director. He majored in Music Composition at North Texas State University, where he enjoyed listening to Wes Mongomery, Charlie Christian, and Dizzy Gillespie. He played with musicians such as Noel Pointer, Ronnie Laws, Jon Lucien, and most notably Roy Ayers, which whom Breaux would perform through 1993 when he decided to embark on a solo career. Breaux’s playing was brought to the attention of NYC Records president Mike Mainieri, who promptly asked Breaux to contribute a track to the Beatles guitar tribute album he was releasing. Mainieri released Breaux’s first two solo albums on NYC. The first, released in 1993, was an album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. Groovin’ featured Breaux originals and compositions by other writers, as well as an acid jazz version of John Coltrane’s “Impressions.” The follow-up album, Laid Back, was released the following year. Breaux had recently resurfaced on Zebra Records, where his album, Uptown Groove, has been performing very well.

Mainieri had said of Breaux, “I’ve personally had the pleasure of performing with Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and George Benson, and Zachary’s own ‘voice’ on the guitar keeps the lineage alive with eloquence and passion.”

Zachary Breaux is survived by his wife, Frederica, and three daughters, ages 14, 12 and 6, as well as six brothers and sisters and his parents.