It seems like every time I open my computer I have to start writing another obit.
Piano has had a rough year: Mulgrew Miller, George Duke, Cedar Walton, now Marian McPartland.
I was "off" when George Duke passed, and don't really have anything to say about him that others didn't say much better. Recently I heard a live Sonny Rollins boot with Duke on acoustic piano where he sounded really good. He's was surely one of the most far-ranging musicians in recent years, able to inject funk into anything from straight-ahead to Zappa to pop.
After thinking about it, I don't really have a unique take on McPartland, either. The NY Times obit by Peter Keepnews is excellent. Here's a couple of random memories: I was on her show once, and was impressed with how seriously she took her research, learning Dave King's "1972 Bronze Medalist" well enough to ask me if these were "really" jazz chords....When I was just getting into the music, I was always less interested in a "modern" player on Piano Jazz than the then the full two-handed stylings of Eubie Blake, Dorothy Donegan, or George Shearing.... Lee Konitz is justifiably proud of his duo-piano improvisation with McPartland on her show, perhaps it is even a free jazz classic...
I'm working on something for Cedar, it's going to take a while. I was surprised at the NY Times obit by William Yardley, which fumbled the ball a bit. I, at least, don't think of Art Blakey first when I think of Cedar Walton! I think of Cedar Walton when I think of Cedar Walton. Also, Cedar rehearsed with Coltrane a little bit and made a single hard-to-find record with Josh Redman, but surely other names deserve mention before Trane or Josh. The three most obvious are Sam Jones, Clifford Jordan, and George Coleman...
The Times obits are usually very good. I'm complaining only because the Times really is the most important daily record of New York culture. Cedar lead marvelous trios and quartets in town for the last 40 years that were required listening for any fan or student. Who gave more to New York culture than Cedar Walton?
Next masterclass date announced: September 10, details under "Upcoming." The format is going to change slightly: for the first hour (or for as long as it takes to show a few things), I'm going to work on piano technique.