Igor Kipnis, virtuosic harpsichordist, prolific critic, and esteemed teacher died January 23. He was 71. According to his managing agency, Marilyn Gilbert Artists Management of Toronto, he had been suffering from cancer.
George Harrison, the youngest Beatle, and the least comfortable with the band's renown, died November 29 at 58, following a battle with cancer. Harrison, one of rock's most distinctive guitarists, was also a songwriter and singer of the first water. It could be said that it was his misfortune to be the third songwriter in a band that featured the two most significant tunesmiths of his era. On the other hand, without Harrison's unique, exquisitely tasteful, musically wide-ranging guitar playing—which, in its consistent submission to the requirements of the individual songs, rarely drew attention to itself—Lennon and McCartney might have just been another band.
Chet Atkins, the good-natured guitarist and successful record producer who established Nashville as the capitol of country music, in the process of transforming the music itself, died on Saturday, June 30. He had battled cancer for several years. He was 77.
On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, New York said farewell to John Lewis in a memorial ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Over 5000 New Yorkers from all walks of life attended, but the most visibly represented community was the musicians.
Drummer Billy Higgins started his remarkable career backing up R&B musicians such as Amos Milburn and Bo Diddley around the LA area before embarking on his jazz path with the Jazz Messengers (led by Don Cherry and saxophonist James Clay) and Dexter Gordon. But it was his association with Ornette Coleman, starting in the mid 1950s, that electrified the jazz world and made him a force to reckon with. His first recordings, with Coleman and Red Mitchell, were released in 1958. In 1959, he performed with both Coleman in New York and Thelonious Monk in San Francisco, and from that point on, he never stopped recording or touring.
Even though she calls her new band, 4x4, a "small" group, it's a big band—almost too big for the stage of the Knitting Factory on the night of October 11, 2000, as it makes its first American appearance. Bley's piano is so far to stage left, she has to lean against the wall and stoop under a hanging monitor speaker to address the audience. Four music stands dominate the rest of the apron—her front line of tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone stand shoulder to shoulder, blocking the audience's view of Larry Goldings and his Hammond B3, drummer Billy Drummond, and bassist Steve Swallow, who stands 15' back and on a riser. If she'd showed up with her 17-piece band, they'd have had to have hung the horn sections from the rafters, like the sound system.
Charlie Lourie, longtime jazz recording industry executive and co-founder of the enthusiast-oriented Mosaic Records, died December 31, 2000 from cardiac arrest, a complication of the rare viral disease scleroderma, from which he had suffered for the last three years. He was 60.
Teresa Sterne, a pioneer in the production of classical music recordings and a visionary marketer of classical and ethnomusicological recordings, died December 10, 2000 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gerhrig's disease). She was 73.