Take Toriyama's friend, colleague, and Berklee classmate Toru Dodo has also posted his thoughts on Take's death. Please read.
More on the late Take Toriyama, from singer Yoon Sun Choi:
On Sunday, June 3rd at 1:00pm there was a memorial march that began from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Barbes ( a music venue and bar that Take performed at regularly). There must have been about 200-300 people at the park and I knew many more who wanted to attend but could not. I was so moved and yet not surprised by the numbers. Take’s family flew in from Japan and I was devastated to see his family in so much pain. I was overwhelmed with sorrow and even now as it has been almost two weeks, I still cry when I think of Take. Slavic Soul Party (a band that Take was a member of) with a few other musicians, played as we marched and I was moved by the beauty and the sorrow that I saw in everyone. We all had different relationships with Take, whether we performed with him, saw him play, hung out with him or didn’t know him personally but was an admirer of his music, everyone was there to pay him hommage. I was so glad that his family witnessed the love and respect that was paid to him. While at Barbes there were computers with photos of Take performing, hanging out and pics from being on tour. I saw a picture of myself playing with Take and it gave me a warm feeling inside even though I was weeping.
In other horrible news, tirelessly passionate political blogger Steve Gilliard died early this morning. My deepest condolences to Jen, to Steve's family, and to all those that were close to him.
[The above image was taken by Lindsay at the Astoria Beer Garden last summer.]
UPDATE: Here is Lindsay's tribute to Steve Gilliard.
Take Toriyama, a musician who was a mainstay of the independent jazz scene in New York, has left us. He was perhaps best known for the joyous and infectious grooves he brought to Slavic Soul Party, but he lent his tremendous creative gifts to a staggering number of local bands, including groups led by Ben Monder, Yoshi Waki, Art Hirahara, Monica Heideman, Amanda Monaco, Tim Zeismer, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Anat Fort, Mark Small, Sebastian Noelle, Thomson Kneeland, Mike McGinnis, Paul Olenick, Gene Ess, Michael Bates, André Canniere, Loren Stillman, Dave Smith, Travis Sullivan, Josh Rutner, Pete Robbins, Adam Schneit, Stefan Zeniuk, Jamie Stratton, Eivind Ovspik, Curtis Hasselbring, Tim Kuhl, Justin Mullens, Tine Bruhn, Sean Conly, Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic, Ursel Schlicht, Katie Porter, Alon Yavnai, Tim Miller, Dave Allen, Michael Attias, Jonathan Moritz, Ben Holmes, Lars Jacobsen, Vardan Ovsepian, Joshua Davis, Brian Drye, Bruce Saunders, and a slew of others I'm sure I'm forgetting right now.
On Monday, May 28, I learned that Take had been found dead in his apartment. I'd grappled about whether to post anything here until there was some kind of official announcement, but today I was forwarded an email by pianist Toru Dodo asking for help spreading the word about Take's memorial:
There will be a farewell party and funeral for drummer Take Toriyama this coming Sunday.
Donation for his family are deeply appreciated. Please give it to Yoshi Waki who is in charge for this party.
Sunday, June 3
1 PM - March and Farewell party
March starts at Prospect Park area then go to Barbès (in the corner of 9th St. and 6 Ave. Brooklyn)
6 PM - Funeral at NY Buddhist Church
331-332 Riverside Dr. bet. 105th St & 106th St., Manhattan
I would also like to invite Take's many friends and colleagues in the New York jazz community and beyond to share their remembrances of him in the comments below. He will be sorely missed.
UPDATE: Here is the statement from Take's Slavic Soul Party bandmates, which has been posted to the Barbès website:
As many of you already know, our dear friend and colleague drummer Take Toriyama tragically died over Memorial Day weekend. There will be a march in his honor with members of Slavic Soul Party and other musicians leaving from Prospect Park this Sunday at 1pm and arriving at Barbès shortly thereafter for an informal gathering in his memory. We hope that his many friends and the many musicians he worked with will be able to attend. His parents and brother will be present. There will be a collection pot for private anonymous contributions that will help his family cover the expenses of their trip from Japan and of the funeral arrangements.
We will gather, this Sunday at 1 PM, at 9th St. and Prospect Park West (parkside) and then proceed to Barbès.
Finally, here's a picture I took of Take playing with Slavic Soul Party at the Knitting Factory in January of this year:
And here's a video of Take performing with Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic's BOMB X in March:
Reaction from around the blogs:
UPDATE: The funeral will be open to the public at Trinity Church (89 Broadway at Wall Street) this Friday, April 27, at 2:00 pm.
UPDATE AGAIN: Vijay Iyer, guest posting on Destination Out.
Leroy Jenkins was a violinist, composer, AACM member, and frequent associate of Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, and Cecil Taylor. Some of his best-loved work was with the Revolutionary Ensemble, his trio with Sirone and Jerome Cooper.
Kris Tiner, who studied with Leroy, has a remembrance.
UPDATE: See also...
Tyler Ho Bynum
Jason Das (beautiful sketches of Leroy)
Brandon Ross (he also studied with Jenkins)
Ben Ratliff (NYT)
We all knew that Michael Brecker was living on borrowed time, but that doesn't lessen the blow of his passing one bit. I'm told he completed what will be his final recording just a few weeks ago.
But Alice Coltrane too? Her fate is especially cruel, coming as it does in the midst of a return to active playing and a critical reassessment of her recorded legacy.
Charlie Haden was incredibly close to both musicians. He played on what would be Alice's final concert, and the album he co-led with Brecker is one of the late sax god's most sincere, heartfelt representations on record.
Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra paid tribute to them both tonight in their performance at IAJE, and if you were there, you know how incredible it was -- easily the most emotionally powerful musical event I've ever seen at one of these things. When the horns starting playing a chorale harmonization of "We Shall Overcome" at the end of the show, I lost it -- I had tears streaming down my face, and they wouldn't stop until Charlie and Matt Wilson came in with the time, which sounded like the most beautiful time in the world. It was like they were putting an arm around everyone's shoulders and reassuring us that it really was going to be okay.
UPDATE: Do The Math brings you Mark Turner's elegy for Michael Brecker, which begins thusly:
Fuck those motherfuckers who don't give it up for Michael Brecker.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
Montreal pianist David Ryshpan commemorates the École Polytechnique massacre, which happened 17 years ago today and is still a national day of mourning in Canada. It's felt especially acutely in Québec, and especially this year, in the wake of the shooting at Montreal's Dawson College in September.
Back when I was at McGill, every December 6th during the moment of silence I'd find myself looking around the classroom or rehearsal studio at all of the female students who had worked so hard to get there. They had to be significantly better than their male peers on the same instrument just to be admitted, and every day, they had to work to prove they were serious about music. (Whereas for us guys, it was mostly just assumed we were serious or we wouldn't be there.) They had to suffer a more-or-less constant stream of condescension, insensitivity, and outright intimidation from those who were uncomfortable with the idea of jazz as anything other than a boys-only club.
And then I would imagine some hateful, spiteful wretch like Marc Lépine walking in that room, unable to face his own deficiencies, reaching out for the most convenient group to scapegoat -- women. Young women, students, struggling to carve out a place for themselves in a male-dominated field, and succeeding. The prospect of full equality was so terrifying to Lépine, who thought these female engineering students had taken his "rightful place," that he lashed out in a killing spree, killing 14 women and injuring 13 others, before taking his own life.
It's easy to dismiss Lépine as an aberrant lunatic. But it's important to put his actions in a social context. As the number of male-dominated fields continue to dwindle, the resentment of those who'd enjoyed the privilege of playing a game rigged in their favor becomes more palpable. Seventeen years later, the misogynist and antifeminist views that animated Lépine are still distressingly commonplace.
One of America's greatest artists, dead at 81.
McCABE (muttering to himself): All the time makin' me feel like I'm gonna make a fool outta myself... mmm... now we gonna see who the fools is. Sonuvabitches. [McCABE pours himself a drink.] Never did fit in this goddamn town. God I hate it when them bastards put their hands on you. I tell you, sometime... sometimes when I take a look at you, I just, I just keep lookin' and a-lookin'... I want to feel your little body against me so bad I think I'm gonna bust. I keep tryin' to tell you in a lot of different ways... if just one time you could be sweet without no money around. I think I could... well, I'll tell you something, I got poetry in me. I do, I got poetry in me! But... I ain't gonna put it down on paper, I ain't no educated man, I got sense enough not to try it. [PAUSE] Can't never say nothin' to you. If you'd just one time let me run the show, I'd... [PAUSE] You're just freezin' my soul, that's what you're doin'. Freezin' my soul... [McCABE pours himself a another drink.] Well, shit! Enjoy yourself, girl. Just go ahead and have a time, what the hell. It's just my luck the only woman ever been one to me ain't nothing but a whore, but what the hell, I never was a percentage man. I suppose a whore's the only kind of woman I'd know.
From McCabe & Mrs. Miller, the best among many outstanding films in Altman's legacy, and one of my favorite movies of all time (up there with Seven Samurai and The Godfather Part 2). Mark Asch has a great post on this flick. See also Scott Lemieux's memorial post at Lawyers, Guns and Money. And Ethan gives a shout-out to my second-favorite Altman.
I've been getting a lot of incoming Google traffic from people wanting more information about the recent, heartrendingly tragic suicide-by-self-immolation of Malachi Ritscher. Please allow me to direct you to this piece by Nitsuh Abebe in Pitchfork (of all places). It's an exceptionally sensitive, thoughtful, and well-researched article, and I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here are some of the most salient excerpts:
Most fans of underground music are probably aware of Chicago's experimental music scene, or at least its most prominent figures: People like jazz saxophonist Ken Vandermark, who won a MacArthur Fellowship in 1999, or the countless players-- Jeb Bishop, Chad Taylor, Fred Lonberg-Holm-- whose names became recognizable to indie fans during the 1990s, in the heyday of Chicago post-rock. If you haven't spent time in Chicago, though, it's easy to underestimate how vibrant the scene is, and has been. Over the past decade, every week in the city has offered multiple opportunities to see avant-garde music, improvised instrumental performances, and free jazz performed by musicians from around the city and around the world, all of it supported by a large and complex circle of artists and fans. Just tracking down who's playing with whom can be a discographer's nightmare: This is a scene that cooperates.
And those most involved in that scene knew Malachi Ritscher. For years, he'd been a constant presence in the community, and probably its most committed documentarian: From the late 1980s onward, he spent an incredible number of nights out at shows, recording and photographing the musicians, and spending time with other fans. "According to his website, he recorded approximately 2,000 shows," says Dave Rempis, who plays saxophone in the Vandermark Five. "That would be six years of recording a show every single night. And from being around this scene, I can tell you that's not at all an overestimation. He was constantly at concerts-- I'd see him five nights a week."
"The recording was a big deal," says percussionist Michael Zerang, who's also played in a Vandermark-led group. "A lot of us couldn't afford recordings, and he would do it and virtually give it to us for free." Dozens of those recordings wound up becoming official releases, either through the artist's labels, or through Ritcher's own Savage Sound Syndicate. "Whenever I saw him," says Rempis, "he'd have a stack of 10 or 20 CD-Rs in his bag, so he could say, 'Oh yeah, I have something for you.'"
For most people, Ritscher's support meant just as much as his recording skills-- especially when it came to music that was so lacking in any kind of broad commercial appeal. "Just by being present all the time," says Zerang, laughing fondly, "well, there was always at least one person there." Bruce Finkelman owns the Empty Bottle-- a key venue for rock and experimental music-- and became used to seeing Ritscher show up for just about all of it: "Twenty below zero temperatures, three people in the club, and Malachi was one of them. Five feet of snow on the ground, and no one showing up, and he was there." It's a level of passion and enthusiasm that should be unimaginable to most of us-- going out, every other night, even in Chicago winters, to see free jazz?
Malachi Ritscher is one of fewer than 10 people in American history to have done this. And as of 2006, it's hard to imagine how an American could successfully use self-immolation as a form of protest. You can't tell anyone about it: Most people would try to dissuade you, or even have you committed for your own protection. It's something you'll inevitably do alone; it's something that major media will not widely report; and it's something most people will conclude was the work of a very ill person.
Back, then, to the question everyone's asking, the question you probably already have strong opinions on: Was Malachi Ritscher a political martyr or a mentally troubled suicide? Let me tip my editorial hand and claim something: The argument is a distraction, and it's the wrong question to ask. It assumes too much. It assumes that the two things are mutually exclusive, or binaries, and that they can't be jumbled intractably in someone's thinking. It assumes that there's a clear, distinct line between rational politics and personal emotions. And it assumes that a troubled person can't legitimately mean what he says, even if his way of expressing it is tragic.
Thanks to Corey Dargel for pointing me to Abebe's article.
ROME, Oct. 13 — Gillo Pontecorvo, the Italian filmmaker who explored terrorism and torture in colonial Algeria in the powerful and influential 1965 classic, “The Battle of Algiers,” died here on Thursday. He was 86.
His death was confirmed by a hospital spokesman, Nicola Cerbino, but no cause was given, The Associated Press said. Other news reports said he had suffered a heart attack a few months ago.
A documentary maker for much of his career, Mr. Pontecorvo made only a handful of feature films, writing and directing them. Most have political overtones. In his first, “The Wide Blue Road” (1957), the theme is class struggle in a fishing village; “Kapo” (1960), an Academy Award nominee for best foreign film, depicts the lot of a Jewish girl in a World War II concentration camp; “Ogro” (1979) concerns terrorism in Spain at the end of the Franco regime.
Another major film, “Burn!” (1969), starring Marlon Brando and released by United Artists, centers on a slave revolt against colonial masters on a Portuguese-controlled Caribbean island. Though set in the 19th century, it contains overt references to the film’s own time.
But Mr. Pontecorvo will be remembered best for “The Battle of Algiers,” a stark portrayal, shot in black and white, of the bloody uprisings that led to Algeria’s independence from France in 1962. Admired and honored when it first appeared, it received renewed acclaim when it was rereleased in the United States in 2004. A. O. Scott, writing in The New York Times, called the film “astonishing cinema vérité” and “a political thriller of unmatched realism and a combat picture remorseless in its clarity.”
The movie was based on a book by Saadi Yacef, who had been the leader of the insurgent cell in the Algiers Casbah that the French crushed in 1957. He survived capture and, after Algerian independence, approached Mr. Pontecorvo to make the film.
“Had it been up to Yacef, the result would have been pure propaganda,” the author Michael Ignatieff wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 2004. “Pontecorvo held out for a deeper vision, and the result is a masterpiece, at once a justification for acts of terror and an unsparing account of terror’s cost, including to the cause it serves.”
The film depicts a cycle of escalating violence and torture as revolutionaries of the National Liberation Front attack fellow Arabs and the French police, who then retaliate, only to provoke more attacks.
Mr. Yacef also produced the film and had a starring role as the leader of the revolutionaries. Indeed, the cast of the film, shot on location in the Casbah, consisted almost entirely of nonprofessional actors, adding to its grim documentary quality.
“The Battle of Algiers” won the Golden Lion for best film at the 1966 Venice International Film Festival. (Mr. Pontecorvo directed the festival for four years, starting in 1992.) But its legend grew as it was used as a kind of training film by both urban guerrillas and the authorities trying to suppress them. The Black Panthers studied the film in the 1960’s, and in 2003, months after the war against Iraqi insurgents began, the Pentagon screened the film for military and civilian war planners.
In a 2004 interview with The International Herald Tribune, Mr. Pontecorvo said he had found the Pentagon’s interest in the film “a little strange.” The most “The Battle of Algiers” could do, he said, is “teach how to make cinema, not war.”
If it were within my power to require everyone in the United States to watch one film, it would be The Battle of Algiers.
Rob of Lawyers, Guns and Money has the definitive post on this incredibly important film.
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Up to three gunman dressed in black army fatigues opened fire in a downtown Montreal college on Wednesday, and early, unconfirmed reports said four people had been killed.
RDI Television quoted unofficial sources as saying that 16 people may also been injured in the shootout. The network said one gunman had turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide, while a second had been shot and killed by police. This could not yet be confirmed.
Nobody old enough to remember the École Polytechnique massacre can hear this news without an awful shiver of recognition. Do we have another Marc Lépine on our hands? Was the shooter (or shooters? It's still not clear... ) inspired by the notorious 1989 attack? December 6 is a national day of mourning in Canada, but the annual moment of silent remembrance always felt especially chilling when sitting in a college classroom in Montreal.
My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of those killed.
UPDATE (1:30 AM, 14 September 2006): Obviously, the initial news reports from the scene were very confused. It now seems there was a single gunman (a 25-year old man, whose name has not yet been publicly identified, and whose motives are still a mystery), who was shot dead by Montreal police. He wounded at least 19 people in his shooting spree, but although some are still in critical condition, only one victim has -- so far -- died, -- 18-year-old Dawson student Anastasia DeSouza. We can only hope the other victims pull through.
Montreal pianist David Ryshpan reflects on the event and its aftermath.
Oh no... it can't be...
Do The Math have the appreciation. I don't really have anything to add to this:
Dave King has the perfect phrase to describe the late Dewey Redman, who died yesterday: “Warm modernism.” "Warm modernism" means be abstract; be surreal; be irrational — but also be an earthy motherfucker.
Marc Medwin (Bagatellen)
Aldon Lynn Nielsen (HeatStrings)
David Ryshpan (Settled In Shipping)
Destination Out (includes audio)
Matt Durutti (Los Amigos De Durutti) (includes audio)
etnobofin (includes audio)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- this one's worth quoting for the local color:
On a plaque in the new Evans plaza, he is remembered as one of a remarkable generation of jazz musicians who all grew up in the same Fort Worth neighborhood. Clarinetist John Carter was two years older, the future “King Curtis” Ousley two years younger. In the band hall at the old I.M. Terrell High School, Carter and Redman met up with a pretty good saxophone player from downtown, a kid named Ornette Coleman.
From a family of Fort Worth schoolteachers, Redman set out for college and a career as a high school band director. In his mid-30s, he left Texas to try his luck as a musician in California and New York, where he caught on with Coleman’s avant-garde band. He stayed.
At his death, Redman had not lived in Fort Worth for 40 years, and had only recently started coming back to play major music festivals.
Yet he died owning a Texas driver’s license that bore his late mother’s last address on East Jessamine Street, about a mile from the 1920s frame house on East Leuda Street where he grew up.
Also, from the NYT obit:
He played his final concert on Aug. 27 at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
If the Society had not been otherwise engaged on the 27th, that's where I would have been. Did anyone catch Dewey's final hit?
AP obit, via Billboard:
Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, known for his soaring high notes and for his hit recording of "Gonna Fly Now," which lent the musical muscle to the "Rocky" movies, has died. He was 78.
Ferguson, who lived in Ojai, Calif., died last night (Aug. 23) at Community Memorial Hospital of kidney and liver failure due to an abdominal infection, friend and manager Steve Schankman said. Ferguson's four daughters, Kim, Lisa, Corby and Wilder, and other family members were at his side when he died.
While much of Maynard's later output was in questionable taste (at best), his pre-1970's work as a lead player, soloist, and bandleader is never subtle, exactly, but often stunning, and rightly esteemed. I had enormous respect for Maynard for always keeping a working band together and on the road, right up until the very end. And, well... honesty compels me to cop to really digging his band's gloriously over-the-top versions of "Chameleon" and "Birdland" back when I was thirteen years old. His obit notes he stood just 5'9", but everyone knows a double high C adds at least a foot to your apparent height. We'll miss you, big guy.Carl Abernathy (Cahl's Juke Joint)
Rifftides has the story:
Duke Jordan died on Tuesday in Copenhagen. The news summons thoughts of the beauty of his piano playing and the gentleness of his personality. Jordan's touch, harmonic sensitivity and gift for the creation of melodic lines made him a favorite colleague of Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Gene Ammons and Chet Baker, to name a few who benefited from his artistry. He had worked earlier with Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins and the Savoy Sultans, but his playing on Parker's 1947 recordings on the Dial label, when he was twenty-five, brought him his first wide recognition. His introductions to ballads were often little masterpieces. The four bars leading into Parker's "Embraceable You" constitute one of the most exquisite moments in all of recorded jazz, and one of the most imitated.
Love frontman Arthur Lee's leukemia finally claimed him yesterday.
It's unlikely that Calexico had heard the news Calexico couldn't have known about Lee's death by the time they took the stage in Central Park yesterday, but one of the tunes in their setlist was a cover of Love's "Alone Again Or" -- you can listen both their version and the original over at Stereogum.
Thus Spake Drake has more.
I saw him play at the Iridium just over a month ago with Grachan Moncur, and he was tremendous -- fleet, witty, supportive, and fully engaged with the music... he unleashed a completely unexpected but absolutely killing Cecil-esque torrent on Grachan's "Hipnosis" that had everyone in the place (band included) looking at him, stunned, their faces telegraphing "we didn't know you could do that!"
It was the first time I'd seen Hicks play live, and even as I walked out the door I was already looking forward to the next time.
Do The Math (with an unexpected guest appearance)
John Hicks was my teacher, hero, and my friend. I loved him, and it has broken my heart to know that I will never see him again. John meant more to me personally than any other musician ever has, and fortunately for me, he also invested more time in my musical future than anyone else. I would love for John Hicks to be remembered for his warmth, humor, and his unique musicianship: there was no one quite like him and there never will be. (read more)
I don't outright disagree with the Bad Plus assessment that Hicks was never heard to full advantage on record. But this particular disc -- the "with strings" session that concluded Blythe's Columbia label stint, and a major-label release so obscure that Gary Giddins, a major Blythe booster, once confessed in the Village Voice that he'd never heard it -- has long been a favorite of mine.
The session was likely a pressure point in Blythe's Columbia tenure, but the saxophonist has rarely sounded so completely alive and impassioned on disc since then. The version of his yearning composition "Faceless Woman" here was never bettered, before or since. And Hicks's contribution to the track is right there on the leader's level; the strings offer a smoothed-out version of the countermelodies and harmonies that might once have been provided by guitarist James Blood Ulmer and cellist Abdul Wadud, while the rhythm section of Anthony Cox and Bobby Battle keeps things at a boil. The result is one of my most cherished recordings -- and sadly, it's out of print.
Rest well, Mr. Hicks.
The Guardian (who always seem to be far ahead of the NY media when it comes to recognizing the passing of jazz greats)
Funeral arrangements (via John Armwood)
Promoted from the comments:
Don took me all over the world. He played masterfully night after night. Miles Davis once told me he is the best percussionist in the world. Everyone who heard him left in amazement...
He never got his due. I tried so hard to get his vibe out. He was so entertaining onstage. He was a good man. Lived to protect me. We split up when my health stopped me short. He was there for me even when I could no longer be there for him. I'm okay now, and I thank Don for so many great years.
his island girl
I posted a website I made for him about ten years ago at
The website is highly recommended, especially this excerpt from Don's autobiography-in-progress, "I Beat The Conga Drums and They Pay Me Money."
It's actually quite a nice tribute by Nate Chinen, hitting most of Don's career highlights:
Playing in Boston clubs by night, he met students from the Berklee School of Music, most notably the bassist Gene Perla.
It was Mr. Perla who got Mr. Alias a job as a drummer with Ms. Simone, even though he had no experience with a full drum kit. He handled the challenge and eventually became Ms. Simone's musical director. In 1969, his work in her ensemble caught the attention of Miles Davis, who was then developing the hazy jazz-rock that would suffuse his album "Bitches Brew."
Hired as an auxiliary percussionist for the album, Mr. Alias ended up playing a trap-set part, along with Jack DeJohnette, on the track "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down." His lean and loosely syncopated beat, inspired by New Orleans parade music, is one of the album's most distinctive rhythms.
Mr. Alias played the role of trap drummer again on a 1979 concert tour with Joni Mitchell, in a band that included the saxophonist Michael Brecker, the guitarist Pat Metheny and the bassist Jaco Pastorius. A live recording from the tour, "Shadows and Light," is often cited as a favorite among musicians.
Also, I did not know about Kebekwa (cute), a percussion ensemble he founded while he was living in Montreal. Don talks more about that band here:
DI: In addition to Stone Alliance, you had another band, Kebekwa. Tell us about that.
DA: That's a play on words. I was living in Canada at the time, in Montreal. The terminology for the people from Quebec was Quebecois. I took it, and spelled it in African intonation, and called it Kebekwa. If you said Kebekwa, it sounded like Quebecois, from the French people there. This was '85 to '87. At that time I thought that maybe I was going to settle down a bit and get off the road. Montreal had that European ambience to it, yet it was still near the States. I went up there and got a band together, a 10-piece band with five percussionists. It turned out to be one of the greatest bands up there.
Bio from congahead.com -- be sure to check the audio clip where he talks about his early days with Nina Simone, being stolen away by Miles, and recording kit on "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" (preempting Jack DeJohnette and Lenny White).
Listen to Don lay it down on "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" (left channel).---
UPDATE (April 2, 3:23 PM) -- ATTENTION MAINSTREAM MEDIA: You suck. Don Alias died on Tuesday, March 28, and now, five days later, not a single mention of his passing anywhere? He played on Bitches Brew. He played on Shadows And Light. He played on Jaco's solo debut. He played and recorded with Weather Report, Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Brecker Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Nina Simone, Dave Liebman, Chick Corea, Carla Bley, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Marty Ehrlich, Carlos Santana, Roberta Flack, Marianne Faithful, James Taylor, and just about anyone else you can think of. Show some fucking respect.
What can I say? A giant is gone, one who never really got his due. His records with Grachan Moncur and Bobby Hutcherson -- One Step Beyond and Destination Out -- are two of the greatest albums in jazz, and remain a wellspring of inspiration for me and many others. Maybe at some point I will write an extended post about the amazing music on these discs -- for now, I'm too sad to write much of anything.
Matana has more.
Also, Stan Simpson's heartfelt column in the Courant.
Julian Chan, a young Malasian alto player.
Jeff Parker writes:
Jackie McLean was my hero when I was in college. The thing I always dug about his playing was his level of conviction - he sounded like he was gonna die if he didn't play, often times he sounded like he was going to explode. He always sounded as if he was struggling with something in his music. His music was so honest, so emotionally direct. Most musicians I knew back then (in college) couldn't stand his playing, and my defense of him was often the subject of many debates. His intonation was consistently sharp, sometimes almost an entire semitone, and his tone was bright. The combination of the two could sound pretty abrasive. But his time was always perfect, and his harmonic sense very advanced. And NOBODY could swing like Jackie McLean. He had the type of time and rhythm that could carry a band, just like his hero and mentor, Charlie Parker. There was so much humanity in his music, so much HEART.
NPR: Fresh Air (2001 - great interview)
The Telegraph (UK)
New York Times (finally)
Peter J. MacDonald (Recorda-Me) talks about One Step Beyond.
A great 2001 essay on Jackie Mac's Blue Note years, by Graham Wood.
MySpace (includes audio)