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Jazz Calendar (Updated 1/17/2022)

Jan 17, 2022

James Mtume, a percussionist who reoriented Miles Davis' later rhythms and whose 1983 hit, "Juicy Fruit," returned to the charts a decade later as the driving force of the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy," died on Jan. 9. He was 76. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Angelo Ellerbee.

Every few years, a new jazz artist (or at least new to us) comes along to shake our perception of what the music can entail.

Barry Harris, a pianist who carefully preserved the language of bebop throughout a seven-decade career as a brilliant performer and influential teacher, died Wednesday at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, N.J. He was 91 and lived in Weehawken, N.J.

Harris had been hospitalized for the last two weeks and died of complications due to Covid, said Kira von Ostenfeld-Suske, who was part of a small support team of friends and students that helped Harris in recent years. Harris would have turned 92 next week and taught his last class, via Zoom, on Nov. 20.

One recent November morning, after months, even years, working apart, a chamber ensemble, jazz trio and more than a dozen opera singers finally have an opportunity to rehearse together, in person, at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. Director Lileana Blain-Cruz picks up a microphone and acknowledges the Los Angeles-based jazz elder who couldn't make the trip east.

Dr. Lonnie Smith, an NEA Jazz Master known for his dynamism and wizardry on the Hammond B3 organ, died Tuesday. He was 79 years old.

His death was confirmed on Twitter by Blue Note Records. A spokesperson for the label said the cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung disease.

Music impresario George Wein, who spawned the modern music festival when he helped launch the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals, has died at the age of 95.

According to a statement from his family, Wein died peacefully in his sleep early Monday morning.

Wein co-founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Newport was the first and largest event of its kind in the U.S., setting the standard for outdoor music festivals to come.

The voice of Phil Schaap was as distinctive as the trumpet of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk's piano, or the sumptuous saxophone harmonies of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, but he didn't didn't make his mark as a musician. Instead, Schaap was one of the leading jazz scholars in America, and the genre's foremost evangelist. He was a radio host, a record producer, a concert programmer, an educator, a reissue producer, an archivist and a researcher, and served many other functions beyond those.

Another piece of New Orleans's rich jazz history has crumbled to the ground.

The building where musical great Louis Armstrong spent much of his childhood is no longer standing after Hurricane Ida battered the city. 427 South Rampart Street was called the Karnofsky Shop, after the family who lived there.

Some of the most esteemed figures in the history of France, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Simone Veil, are interred in the Panthéon in Paris. And now a new spirit will join them: an entertainer, activist, and agent of the French resistance.

Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis in 1906, began performing in her teens, and moved to Paris.

"I just couldn't stand America, and I was one of the first colored Americans to move to Paris," she told The Guardian in 1974.

Charlie Watts, the unshakeable drummer for The Rolling Stones, died this morning. According to a publicist, he died in a hospital in London, surrounded by family. No cause of death was given. He was 80 years old.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, it was virtually impossible to imagine attending a live concert in person, let alone a festival. One of the first American jazz festivals to make a comeback and bring a little rejoice to the world, is Exit Zero in Cape May.

There's a moment on "Oceans of Time," from a 2016 album by The Cookers, when alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. takes a solo full of swerving self-assurance. Swinging mightily behind him is the composer of the tune, master drummer Billy Hart.

Nnenna and Phil Freelon were a power couple: He was the lead architect for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture, and she was a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, composer, actress and playwright. They enjoyed an exciting, full life of work, travel, friends and family.

Erroll Garner, the effervescent and boundlessly inventive jazz pianist and composer, died more than 40 years ago, at the age of 55. A household name and major concert attraction in his prime, he has recently regained a measure of cultural cachet thanks to the Erroll Garner Project, which made a splash five years ago with an expanded rerelease of Garner's landmark album, Concert By the Sea.

Trombonist and composer Curtis Fuller, a pivotal figure on his instrument since the '50s and a beloved mentor, passed away May 8. He was 88. His death was confirmed by his daughter, Mary Fuller, and by the Jazz Foundation of America.

"His sound was massive, striking and immediate, a waveform that was calibrated to overload the senses and saturate the magnetic tape that captured it," says trombonist and composer Jacob Garchik. "In our era of obsession with harmony and mixed meters, Curtis Fuller's legacy reminds us of the importance of sound."

It's not hard to imagine a world where a search for the phrase "jazz connoisseur" turns up a photo of the grinning mug of Phil Schaap. As a historian and educator, a Grammy-winning reissue producer, a curator and a pontificator, Schaap has more than earned his prestigious stature as the 2021 A.B.

Last year, the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert affixed a hopeful coda to the cruelest of months. And for pandemic precautionary reasons, the event was fully virtual, with a carefully produced montage of performances and salutations from around the world. This year's International Jazz Day arrives at quite a different moment, in some respects — though still a good distance from a post-COVID reality.

Paul Jackson, who as bassist for Herbie Hancock's Headhunters helped secure the first million-selling jazz album, died on March 18 in Japan, where he had lived since 1985.

He was 73. His death was confirmed on social media by his longtime musical associate, drummer Mike Clark.

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