Tag Archives: Obit

Frank Sumares Dies

I received an email today saying that the great Frank Sumares, or as most people called him “Uncle Frank” or “Uncafunk” died of Cancer today.

He was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a very short time ago, like less than two weeks. The doctors were saying that he had 6-8 months, then revised it to 2-3 months, and now…..he’s gone.

I remember Frank when I would play in the Chabot Jazz band. He would have his signature dark glasses on and just come in and kick some musical ass. One of the best directors I’ve ever had. Great guy. Rest in Peace man.

Farewell: Himie Voxman

I heard about this on the Klarinet list this morning, and now it is verified. Sad. He made and complied a lot of wonderful things.

Farewell: Himie Voxman:


Himie Voxman (1912-2011)

Influential music educator and longtime University of Iowa faculty member Himie Voxman has passed away at the age of 99. If you are a woodwind player, you have almost certainly used, at some point in your musical studies, something written or edited by Professor Voxman.

Check out the Iowa City Press-Citizen’s tribute for a nice overview of his life and career.


(Via Bret Pimentel, woodwinds)

Saxophonist Falls To His Death

From the Local:

A Swedish musician fell 20 metres to his death during a performance at a Leipzig street festival over the weekend.

The man, Finn Martin, was supposed to use a rope to help him vertically slide down the façade of a building while playing a saxophone before dozens of cheering fans late Friday evening.

But during the attempt, the harness apparently broke and Martin plunged to his death before the shocked audience.

“He was a world-class artists, one of the top-ten saxophone players in the world, but almost unknown in Sweden,” Martin’s cousin Peter Martin, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

That totally sucks. Never, ever do anything like this people. Ever. And Peter Martin……never heard of your cousin. He is not in the top-ten list….except maybe for a Darwin Award.

Brian Rust, Father of Modern Discography, Dies at 88

Brian Rust died. Don’t know who this is? Oh, but you know his work. Yes you do you jazzer you.

“Brian Rust, a discographic detective who compiled comprehensive guides to recorded jazz and other popular music, in the process setting the standard for the modern field, died on Jan. 5 in Swanage, in southern England. He was 88.

For decades, “Jazz Records” — known to jazz mavens simply as “J. R.” — has been the de facto standard reference work in the field, furnishing meticulous information on session dates, personnel and much else for tens of thousands of recordings.”

See, he’s the reason you know X, Y and Z played on a session at so and so studio on this date.

Thanks for your work Brian.

John Barry

Barry composer of the classic James Bond theme died today. It’s impossible to imagine James Bond without it’s signature theme, but that almost happened.

“Shortly after this Barry would receive the fateful phone call from Bond producer Harry Saltzman. “I got a phone call from Harry,” recalled Barry in a 2006 article in the Telegraph. “He never used to come down to the recording sessions, and he says: ‘John, that is the worst fucking song I ever heard in my life. We open in three weeks’ time, otherwise I’d take that fucking song out of the picture. I’d take it out! Out!’”

Here are some other themes he did, like Dances With Wolves.

Another good link about John Barry.

Leon Breeden Dies

Sad news

“Leon Breeden, the longtime director of jazz studies at the University of North Texas, who half a century ago transformed the program from a clandestine enterprise into the international Mecca for jazz training it remains today, died on Wednesday in Dallas. He was 88.”

My college band got to do a concert with North Texas State’s One O’Clock band (well after Mr. Breeden left). We were rehearsed and sounded good playing Thad Jones arrangements. They came in and sightread all the tunes we had prepared and sounded better. Damn.

Louie Bellson Dies at 84

Sad news today:
Louie Bellson, a jazz drummer and bandleader who combined remarkable instrumental virtuosity with far-ranging compositional skills, has died. He was 84.

According to his wife Francine, Bellson died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications of Parkinson’s disease following a broken hip in November.

Got to play with him a bunch of times while in College as he was living in San Jose at the time (I think). He looked frail back then, but as soon as he sat down at the drums he was like a little kid…….and was simply amazing.

Gerry Niewood Dies In Plane Crash

Lohud reports:
“Rochester native Gerry Niewood, whose jazz saxophone was a familiar sound for four decades in venues ranging from the downtown Rochester Shakespeare Lounge to “Saturday Night Live,” was among the victims of Thursday night’s Continental Airlines crash.

Niewood, who was 65, was on his way to Buffalo to play in last night’s Chuck Mangione concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. The two had known each other since childhood, both growing up in the Clinton and Joseph avenues area.”

AllaboutJazz and MSNBC also have stories on this as well.

Damn tragic story.

Pink Floyd Founder Dies

From the BBC
Pink Floyd keyboard player and founder member Richard Wright has died at the age of 65 from cancer.

I always think of Pink Floyd as sort of a Miles Davis rock group (without Miles). Lots of colors, and mood to their music. Plus, they had saxophone (sometimes).

I can cite two songs that were influential in me wanting to play saxophone. The first was Michael Frank’s “Dr. Sax” which features Michael Brecker (I didn’t know who the saxophone player was at the time. I just knew he had unearthly talent). The second song was “Us and Them” by Pink Floyd. Dunno, love that song.

Don LaFontaine Dies

Don LaFontaine, the man who provided the sonorous voice for more than 5,000 movie trailers, died Monday at age 68. LaFontaine was known as the “king of the movie trailers,” having done the trailer voiceovers for films such as Terminator, Fatal Attraction, Cheaper by the Dozen, Batman Returns and his personal favourite, The Elephant Man.

Yeah, I know, not really saxophone related, but this guys voice was amazing.