Jazz Greats Who Died in 2017…

Dear Editor,

Guitarist Larry Coryell died Feb. 19 at age 73. Coryell’s rock-tinged riffs opened the door in the mid-’60s to jazz/rock fusion.

Pianist Horace Parlan died Feb. 23 at age 86. Parlan was a hard-bop pianist who recorded with Charles Mingus, Clark Terry, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Archie Shepp and others.

Pianist Misha Mengelberg died March 3 at age 81. Mengelberg was an avant-garde pianist and one of the founders of the Dutch jazz orchestra Instant Composers Pool.

Saxophonist Arthur Blythe died March 27 at age 76. Blythe was a free-bop saxophonist who worked with Mose Allison, Lester Bowie, Chico Hamilton, McCoy Tyner and was a member of the World Saxophone Quartet.

Drummer Granville William “Mickey” Roker died May 22 at age 84. Roker recorded with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.

Pianist Geri Allen died June 27 at age 60. Allen was a pianist-composer and educator whose discography includes nearly 20 albums as a leader/soloist and was an associate professor of music and the director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. She recorded with Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Charles Lloyd and Dewey Redman, among others.

Drummer Grady Tate died Oct. 8 at age 85. Tate recorded with Charles Mingus, Ben Webster, Jimmy Smith and Stan Getz.

Pianist Muhal Richard Abrams died Oct. 29 at age 87. An influential pianist, composer and educator, who co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Jazz vocalese innovator Jon Hendricks died Nov. 22 at age 96. He was a member of the greatest vocal group ever — Lambert, Hendricks and Ross — and often performed with The Manhattan Transfer.

Drummer Ben Riley died Nov. 18 at age 84. Riley made vital contributions to recordings by Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, etc.

Drummer James Marcellus Arthur “Sunny” Murray died Dec. 7 at age 81. Murray is the father of free drumming who helped free up Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler. I had the privilege of hanging out with Sunny in the lower east side of Manhattan one July evening, 1970. The New York Times Dec. 8 issue had a great obituary for him which can be read on line. I cried.

Trombonist Roswell Rudd died Dec. 21 at age 82. Rudd, a one-time Dixieland trombonist, became the instrument’s first major practitioner in avant-garde jazz and is my all-time favorite trombonist. Rudd became the standard by which young trombonists are compared.

Lee Santa

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