Saxophonist Gerry Niewood was among those who perished aboard Continental Flight 3407 on Thursday night. I had the good fortune to have Gerry perform my music in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop and in a few Secret Society rehearsals he was gracious enough to sub in. Others -- like Society saxophonist Sam Sadigursky, who has posted an excellent tribute on his own blog -- knew him far better, but in our brief interactions he seemed a selfless, stand-up guy, in addition to being true to his rep as a consummate pro. Deepest condolences to his son Adam (also a saxophonist) and the rest of his family and loved ones.
34-year old guitarist Coleman Mellett was also aboard that flight -- he and Gerry were both heading to a scheduled performance with Chuck Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Again, my sincerest condolences to those who knew him.
I went to college with Niewood's son Adam and got to know Gerry a little while in school, and even took a lesson with him after finishing college. A few years later, I found myself sitting next to him when subbing in the orchestra for the Radio City Christmas Show. Over a period of three years, I played about seventy shows sitting next to him, and he was always a great source of warmth, encouragement, sound, professionalism, humor, and a real woodwind guru. He seemed to do things his own way, which isn't something I've encountered much playing on Broadway. I always felt that I emerged a better player after sitting next to him, and he always had something nice to say to me after the show, which meant a great deal to me being so new there.
Jason Crane (The Jazz Session) - includes audio interview with Adam Niewood.
Doug Ramsey (Rifftides)
Monk Rowe (Jazz Backstory)
Ron Netsky (Rochester City Newspaper)
Annette Batson (Baristanet) - reaction from Gerry's community in Glen Ridge, NJ.