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Monday, February 19, 2007

More Great Musicians Crossing Over

I have been traveling and shoveling snow like a madman recently (today, the thaw finally arrived in Chicago). This has kept me away from the blog for a couple of weeks. We have lost a couple of wonderful musicians in the last week or so.

Jazz bassist Eldee Young died of a heart attack on February 12th. He was performing in Thailand, a country that he visited often in recent years. The picture above shows Eldee with Redd Holt - Redd is standing, Eldee is sitting. Eldee was 71 years old and as exuberent as ever.

Young was a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio during the days of Ramsey's cross-over hits - "The In Crowd","Hang On, Sloopy" and all the rest of those mid-60's soul/jazz records. Ramsey Lewis disbanded the trio in the latter part of the 1960's, Drummer Redd Holt and Eldee stayed together as Young-Holt Unlimited. Eldee and Redd had a big hit in 1968 - a funky instrumental called "Soulful Strut" that has been covered and sampled by a broad range of contemporary musicians (including the British teenage soul kid, Joss Stone). Here is a link to Eldee's obituary in the Chicago Tribune. Eldee was also a terrific singer, totally unheralded but very much a talent. His bass playing is up there with Ray Brown, in my opinion. He will be deeply missed.

Peggy Gilbert was a true pioneer. As a young girl, she decided she wanted to be a jazz saxophonist. This was not a carrer path for women that was actively encouraged in the 1920's and 1930's. She persevered, played, and led various "All-Girl" jazz bands for many decades - she was still an active player after she reached the age of 90!. Peggy died from complications associated with hip replacement surgery. She was 102 years old. Here is a link to the LA Times obituary. Peggy fought the good fight and broke ground for women in jazz.

I am sad that these two slipped away before I could shake their hands and express my respect for them.

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