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Pianist John Lewis Dies at 80

Pianist/composer John Lewis died Thursday, March 29 at his home in Manhattan. He was 80. His death was caused by prostate cancer.

Lewis’ musical career began in the 1940s and ended with a performance at Lincoln Center in New York in January of this year. He was best known for his 45-year gig as pianist and director of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Fans and peers consider him one of the most serious jazz composers of all time. His interest in European music led him to incorporate new ideas into jazz that helped mature the artform. In addition to his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet, Lewis composed and arranged for the Dizzy Gillespie big band, the Miles Davis groups, and Orchestra U.S.A.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Mirjana Lewis; his sister, Marylyn Gore; two children, Alexander and Nina; and three grandchildren, Samuel, Anna and Mia.

Originally Published