Every December, I remember Grover Washington, Jr., a contemporary jazz legend. He died nine years ago, on December 17. He had a distinctive sound and a number of hits that are still remembered and played to this day. He made a lasting impression on me when I saw him rock the house in St. Louis in 1993 (with then newbie Norman Brown opening). He had the crowd in a frenzy. He blew his ass off!
Here he is, in his prime, from a 1983 performance in Japan:
I knew Marc Moulin’s acid jazz/nu jazz music from his Blue Note release here entitled Top Secret. I think it’s the only one of his Blue Note recordings issued here. However, as I just learned, he had a long-lived career starting with a fusion band called Placebo and including the electro-pop band Telex. He died of cancer on September 26 at the age of 66.
Tom Van Hout posted an Ode to Marc in his blog, writing “It is hard to do justice to Marc’s genius, but here’s an attempt at doing just that. What many people disqualify as ‘lounge music’ or ‘nu jazz’ – recall the St. Germain hype – draws on the jazz electro sound Marc Moulin pioneered.”
Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, and Nancy Wilson were among the musicians who paid tribute to the late Oscar Peterson on January 12 at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. The event, titled “Oscar Peterson: Simply the Best” saw 2500 fans offering a final farewell to the legendary pianist. He died on December 23, at the age of 82, of kidney failure. Several good recaps of the emotional goodbye were written by J.D. Considine, John Stewart (for the Mississauga News), and Scott Anderson (for Reuters). An archive is available at the CBC site. Share your thoughts on Oscar Peterson in The Forum.
David Benoit counts Oscar Peterson as one of his influences. The contemporary jazz pianist is recording an album of compositions from his favorite artists, including Peterson, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, the Doors, the Beatles, and Elton John. It’s titled Heroes and will be out this year.
Also on the topic of tributes: John Beasley has been working on a tribute to Herbie Hancock. He’s joined by Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride and Jeff “Tain” Watts. The recording, expected in March, is the one of the first on a new label called Resonance Records. According to the press release, Resonance Records artists “benefit from an innovative revenue-sharing concept that not only offers greater economic return, but also allows them to produce their music without the typical studio time restrictions and their related expenses.”
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.
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.