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Recent Deaths in Jazz

Trumpeter Idrees Sulieman died on Sunday, July 28th at age 78. Born Leonard Graham in St. Petersburg, Florida on August 7, 1923, Sulieman made his debut with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, after which he studied at the Boston Conservatory. In 1943 and ’44 he worked with Earl Hines, and during the rest of that decade appeared with Louis Jordan, Benny Carter, Cab Calloway, and Illinois Jacquet. Sulieman also appeared on Thelonious Monk’s debut session as a leader, recorded in 1947, which can now be heard on the Rudy Van Gelder edition of Monk’s Genius of Modern Music, Volume One. During the 1950s, Sulieman played and recorded with Gene Ammons, Jackie McLean, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, and Tadd Dameron. In 1961 he relocated to Sweden, settling in Stockholm, and then moved to Copenhagen in 1964. During his time in Scandinavia, Sulieman was a soloist with the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland big band and recorded with Eric Dolphy, Don Byas and Bud Powell. The trumpeter also worked with radio orchestras and recorded as a leader for Swedish Columbia and SteepleChase.

Jimmy Maxwell, a lead trumpeter with many of the big bands from the 1940s on, died Sat., July 20 at his home in Great Neck, New York. He was 85. Born Jan. 9, 1917, James Maxwell played with Gil Evans in 1933-34, while he was still in high school. During the ’30s he worked with Jimmy Dorsey and Maxine Sullivan, but did not gain national attention until joining Benny Goodman in 1939. Maxwell stayed with Goodman until 1943, appearing on the hit “Why Don’t You Do Right?” with singer Peggy Lee. In 1943 he joined the CBS orchestra, playing for The Perry Como Show (1945-63) and later for Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show (1963-73). In addition to his television gigs, Maxwell appeared briefly with several big name leaders, including Woody Herman (1958), Duke Ellington (1961 and 1973), Count Basie, Oliver Nelson, and Gerry Mulligan. He also rejoined Goodman in 1962 for a tour of the Soviet Union, during which time he developed a heroin addiction. He began methadone treatment after returning from the tour and was able to overcome his addiction. Maxwell began teaching in 1950, and in his later years appeared with many Dixieland and swing bands. Health problems forced him to stop performing several years ago. He is survived by a son, a daughter, and four grandsons.

Joe Derise, a big band singer and cabaret artist, died June 24 in Shelton, Conn. of cancer. He was 76. At the age of 21, Derise became the vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, and later joined Claude Thornhill, working as a singer, arranger, and guitarist. After leaving Thornhill, Derise formed his own group, called “Four Jacks and a Jill,” which included Patty Easton, who Derise later married. The two were eventually divorced. Derise composed several of his own songs with vocalist Marcia Hillman, and appeared often at New York cabarets such as the Ballroom and the Village Gate. From 1969 until 1978, Derise toured with a group called the Diamonds, serving as musical director and vocalist. Derise was also a friend of Ira Gershwin’s and performed Gershwin’s little-known “Blah, Blah, Blah.” Derise is survived by a son and a daughter.

Originally Published