Re­mem­ber­ing the artists we lost this year

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Bret Saun­ders Bret Saun­ders (bret­saun­ders@ kbco.com) can be heard from 6 to 11 a.m. week­days at KBCO 97.3 FM. By Bret Saun­ders, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

What a grim year this was for mu­sic.

The 2016 loss of some of the most in­flu­en­tial names in pop­u­lar mu­sic (David Bowie and Prince both had pro­found con­nec­tions to jazz, by the way; Bowie em­ployed sev­eral of New York’s top im­pro­vis­ing names for his fi­nal al­bum, and there are ru­mors that Prince and Miles Davis recorded a lot of un­re­leased mu­sic to­gether) tended to ob­scure some other in­no­va­tors who, while they didn’t sell as many records, de­serve to be re­mem­bered and their art sa­vored. Here are a few: Bobby Hutch­er­son. One of a hand­ful of artists who made their mark on the vi­bra­phone, Hutch­er­son’s ap­proach to the in­stru­ment and stun­ning com­po­si­tions made him one of the finest (and most con­sis­tent) record­ing artists to emerge from the ‘60s. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine the cre­ative and com­mer­cial suc­cess of the iconic Blue Note la­bel with­out Hutch­er­son’s con­tri­bu­tions. As a leader and col­lab­o­ra­tor, his voice on the vibes has never been repli­cated. And he rarely let up; play the “Di­a­logue” al­bum from 1965 next to 2014’s “En­joy The View” (both on Blue Note) and be moved by Hutch­er­son’s com­mit­ment and in­ven­tion.

Mose Al­li­son. He sang drily witty (and self-penned) lyrics about the hu­man con­di­tion and some­how the phras­ing of his pi­ano so­los per­fectly com­pli­mented his un­mis­tak­able voice. Al­li­son was one of those “mu­si­cian’s mu­si­cians,” in­flu­enc­ing scores of rock per­form­ers from The Who to The Clash. But as much as rock and blues artists ad­mired him, he was a jazz artist at heart, as any of his ‘50s and ‘60s record­ings for the Pres­tige and At­lantic la­bels will at­test. Find com­pi­la­tions from either of those la­bels to start with Al­li­son’s deep, recorded legacy, but don’t be sur­prised when you come across some­thing he made in the past decade that sounds just as in­vig­o­rat­ing as the stuff from half a cen­tury back.

Pauline Oliv­eros. She’s prob­a­bly the most ob­scure name here, but this cre­ator of elec­tronic and ac­cor­dion-based drones was hugely in­flu­en­tial in the se­cond half of the 20th cen­tury and be­yond. She was a pi­o­neer in avant­garde ex­plo­rations, and in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of the prac­tice of “Deep Lis­ten­ing,” which is just that. Ad­ven­tur­ous lis­ten­ers will want to seek out the re­cent “Re­ver­ber­a­tions: Tape And Elec­tronic Mu­sic 1961-1970” box set, and there are plenty of more ac­ces­si­ble record­ings avail­able, in­clud­ing “Ac­cor­dion And Voice” from 1982, which is lovely for mo­ments of con­tem­pla­tion.

There are other masters lost to 2016 as well, in­clud­ing sax­o­phon­ist Gato Bar­bieri, pi­anist Paul Bley, har­mon­ica king Toots Thiele­mans and Rudy Van Gelder, the record­ing engi­neer who made a seem­ingly in­fi­nite num­ber of al­bums sound life-al­ter­ing on your stereo. R.I.P.

In per­son: Ge­orge Win­ston

brings his laid-back pi­ano stylings to Love­land’s Rialto The­ater on Dec. 27… Pi­anist Paul Shinn and his trio per­form at Noc­ture Jazz and Sup­per Club on Dec. 29 … Charles McPher­son, a tremen­dous alto sax­o­phon­ist, is on the bill at Daz­zle Jazz on New Year’s Eve, and clar­inetist Don By­ron brings his group to Daz­zle Jan. 6-7.

Mose Al­li­son was one of those mu­si­cian’s mu­si­cians, in­flu­enc­ing scores of rock per­form­ers from the Who to the Clash. Pro­vided by

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