Remembering the artists we lost this year
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