The difficulty of holding live funerals and memorial services is one of the hidden tragedies of the pandemic. We’ve learned to adjust and adapt in so many ways, but I haven’t heard much talk on creative alternatives to honoring the recently departed.
Yesterday, I heard a program sponsored by Terry Gross on jazz musicians who passed away this year. Many were in their 80’s and 90’s, which helped soften the blow knowing that they had left us. But still, grief is grief and knowing that the Keith Jarrett Trio can’t gather again with Gary Peacock gone is a bitter pill to swallow. Yet the beauty of the artist is all the footprints he or she leaves behind, all the bread crumbs that we still can pick up and chew on to get some directions when we’re lost in the woods.
The program highlighted eight of our American geniuses, most of whose music I knew fairly well, five of whom I had seen live in concert and two of whom I had the pleasure to briefly speak with. In their honor and for your own pleasure, may I suggest that you take some time in the closing days of 2020 to listen to some of their music? Below is the list, with a couple of suggestions:
• Pianist Ellis Marsalis (try the two recordings he made with the Marsalis Family)
• Pianist McCoy Tyner (particularly his early work in the John Coltrane Quartet)
• Bassist Gary Peacock (the entire collection of The Keith Jarret Trio)
• Singer Annie Ross (any of her work with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross)
• Saxophonist Lee Konitz (recent albums with Brad Meldhau and Charlie Haden)
• Guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (The Pizzarellis: Bucky and John Pizzarelli )
• Saxophonist Jimmy Heath (Statements album with Milt Jackson)
• Trumpet player Wallace Roney (Remembering Bud Powell album with Chick Corea)