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Posts Tagged ‘Sun Ra’

Died On This Date (August 23, 2013) Byard Lancaster / Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on August 26, 2012

Byard Lancaster
August 6, 1942 – August 23, 2012

Byard Lancaster was a revered jazz multi-instrumentalist whose primary instruments were the alto saxophone and flute.  Born in Philadelphia, Lancaster received his training at Berklee College of Music before settling in New York City.  Throughout his career, Lancaster performed with such jazz luminaries as Sun Ra, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones, as well as blues greats like Memphis Slim and Johnny Copeland.  He also released several albums of his own over the years.  Byard Lancaster died of pancreatic cancer on August 23, 2012.  He was 70.

Thanks to Henk de Bruin for the assist.

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Byard Lancaster

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Died On This Date (August 11, 2012) Von Freeman / Chicago Jazz Great

Posted by themusicsover on August 11, 2012

Earle “Von” Freeman
October 3, 1923 – August 11, 2012

Von Freeman was an influential jazz saxophonist who was revered the world over by fans of hard bop.  Even though his skills matched that of say, John Coltrane, Freeman never enjoyed the commercial success of the jazz titans beside whom he could easily stand.  This was perhaps by design. When once called by Miles Davis to replace Coltrane, Freeman respectfully declined.  After serving in the Navy – and playing in the Navy Band – during WWII, Freeman settled back in his hometown of Chicago where he and his brother, George Freeman, backed national acts when the toured through town.  That list includes Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  Freeman also played in Sun Ra’s band during the early ’50s.  In 1972, he began making his own albums, most of which were critical favorites.  Even though his early records showcased a musical genius that was beyond most, it wasn’t until later releases, like 2004’s The Great Divide, that Freeman achieved some commercial success.  He did, however, receive one of music’s highest honors, a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Von Freeman was 88 when he died of heart failure on August 11, 2012.

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The Great Divide - Von Freeman

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Died On This Date (June 1, 2012) Faruq Z. Bey (June 1, 2012) Avant Garde Jazz Saxophonist

Posted by themusicsover on June 1, 2012

Faruq Z. Bey (Born Jesse Davis)
DOB Unknown – June 1, 2012

Faruq Z. Bey was a jazz saxophonist who made his mark on popular music by way of free jazz.  Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Bey found inspiration in jazz icons like John Coltrane and Sun Ra.  In 1972, he co-founded Griot Galaxy, an avant-garde jazz band who were a favorite throughout out the Detroit area free jazz scene as well as in Europe where they found their most success touring.  They released just two proper albums during their run.  The group stayed together until 1989, after which Bey worked with many other jazz artists while focusing much of his efforts on the Northwoods Improvisers who recorded several albums with Bey.  During his later years, Bey’s health deteriorated to the point where he needed an oxygen tank a by his side at all times, but it barely slowed him down.  He also found time to write two books of poetry as well as a theoretical/aesthetic manifesto.  Faruq Bey passed away on June 1, 2012 of multiple health issues including emphysema.  He was thought to be 70.

Thanks to Henk de Bruin of 2+ Printing for the assist.



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Died On This Date (April 11, 2011) Billy Bang / Jazz Violinist

Posted by themusicsover on April 11, 2011

Billy Bang (Born William Walker)
September 20, 1947 – April 11, 2011

Billy Bang was a respected jazz violinist and Vietnam vet who has been recognized as a driving force of New York City’s experimental jazz movement of the 1970s.  Bang picked up the violin while still in school, but only because he was assigned the smaller instrument due to his smallish stature.  Bang ultimately left high school early and was drafted by the US Army just in time to serve a tour of combat duty during the Tet Offensive.  Upon his return home, Bang, like so many others like him, had a hard time adjusting to civilian life, so he became politically active and began working with a group of underground revolutionaries.  While on an outing to gather weapons at a pawn shop, Bang couldn’t help but notice the violins hanging on a wall, so he bought one and changed his life path.  Bang eventually found himself playing in Sun Ra’s band and later, formed his own.  Over the course of his career, Bang released several influential albums including two that were directly influenced by his time in Vietnam, Vietnam: The Aftermath and Vietnam: Reflections.  On April 11, 2011, Billy Bang died following a battle with lung cancer.  He was 63.

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Billy Bang

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Died On This Date (April 11, 2011) Lacy Gibson / Respected Chicago Blues Guitarist

Posted by themusicsover on April 11, 2011

Lacy Gibson
May 1, 1936 – April 11, 2011

Lacy Gibson was a gifted Chicago blues guitarist who over a career that spanned six decades came to be known as a musician’s musician thanks in part to his flashy jazz-influenced guitar skills.  He was also revered for his soulful voice. After moving to Chicago from North Carolina in 1949, Gibson immediately immersed himself in the city’s storied blues scene, learning directly from the likes of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon.  During the ’60s, he became a popular session player for the local labels, including Chess, where he actually sang on at least one recording by Buddy Guy.  Over the course of his career, Gibson recorded or performed with the likes of Sun Ra (his brother-in-law), Jimmy Reed, Son Seals, and Otis Rush.  He released three of his own albums between 1971 and 1996, and continued to be a mainstay on local stages until his ill health kept him away in recent years.  Lacy Gibson died of a heart attack on April 11, 2011.  He was 74.

Thanks to Joel Oberstein at New Releases Now! for the assist.

 

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