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Recent Deaths in Music

The music community has suffered several losses in the past several weeks. Alan Lomax (pictured), a musicologist who made thousands of recordings of traditional folk, blues and jazz musicians, died on July 19 in Sarasota, Fla.; he was 87. On July 13, jazz drummer Jerry Fuller died in his sleep in Toronto; he was 63. Edmund Anderson, a one-time stockbroker, producer and dear friend to Duke Ellington, died on June 29 at his home in Quogue, N.Y.; he was 89. Seymour Solomon, who co-founded Vanguard Records with his brother Maynard, died at his summer home in Lenox, Mass., on July 18; he was 80.

Born in Austin, Texas, in 1915, Alan Lomax began his career in his teens, accompanying his father through the South and West, dragging a 500-pound machine to record cowboys, plantation workers and prisoners. By the end of the 1930s, Lomax and his father had recorded more than 3,000 songs on 78-rpm discs. Over his career, Lomax’s interest in indigenous folk music would take him across the globe-from the south and west of the United States to the Caribbean, the Georgia Sea Islands, England, Spain and Italy. The Lomaxes recorded several musicians who would later become household names, including Woody Guthrie, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters and Son House.

Alan Lomax’s book The Land Where the Blues Began won the 1993 National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction, and his 1938 interviews with Jelly Roll Morton spawned the off-Broadway show Jelly Roll and the book Mister Jelly Roll. In 1959 Lomax recorded a Mississippi prisoner, James Carter, singing the work song “Po’ Lazarus,” which became the opening track to the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Universal). In addition to his recording duties, Lomax was a radio host during the ’30s and ’40s, a research associate in Columbia University’s department of anthropology and Center for the Social Sciences, and worked on the Global Jukebox, a database of thousands of songs and dances cross-referenced with anthropological data.

Many of Lomax’s recordings are documented on CD, including Rounder Records’ Alan Lomax Collection, a series of more than 100 CDs of music recorded by Lomax in the deep South, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Spain and Italy.

Lomax is survived by a daughter, Anna L. Chairetakis, and a sister, Bess Lomax Hawes, of Northridge, Calif.

Jerry Fuller was born in Calgary on April 5, 1939. He studied with Jim Blackley and went to Westlake College in Los Angeles in 1958. In the late ’50s he worked with Paul Perry’s band at Sylvan Lake, a summer resort halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, and played at the Cellar in Vancouver with Don Thompson and Dale Hillary. Fuller can be heard on the Ron Collier album Duke Ellington: North of the Border, which had Ellington as a guest on piano. Fuller played with many top American touring jazz artists, including Pepper Adams, Zoot Sims, Paul Desmond and Lee Konitz. In the late ’90s he recorded with the Chris Mitchell Combo, which took the grand prize in the Montreal International Jazz Festival Concours. Among the many other recordings that Fuller can be heard on are Torme and the Boss Brass, a 1986 album on Concord, and An Oscar Peterson Christmas, a 1995 recording on Telarc.

Edmund Anderson met Duke Ellington in 1936, and the two would remain close friends until Ellington’s death in 1974. “Flamingo,” a love song written by Anderson and Ted Grouya, was recorded by Ellington in the ’40s and became an Ellington standard. Anderson encouraged Ellington to perform at Carnegie Hall, prompting Ellington’s first appearance there in 1943. Anderson also worked as a producer, and in his early career produced jazz broadcasts for radio. He also wrote music for and directed radio and TV commercials.

He is survived by his wife, Joan Bauer Uttal Anderson, two daughters, Wendy Swindell and Linda A. Rost, a son, Wesson, seven grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Seymour Solomon was born in Manhattan, studied violin at Juilliard and was a member of the Air Corps orchestra during World War II. He attended graduate school in musicology at NYU, was a music critic for magazines and New York radio stations and in 1950 started Vanguard Records. Although Vanguard’s roots were in classical music–in 1950 Solomon recorded the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera for the label–Vanguard was also the home of Mississippi John Hurt, Big Mama Thornton, Buddy Guy and Charlie Musselwhite. Starting in 1959 Vanguard recorded the Newport Folk Festival and later the Newport Jazz Festival.

Vanguard was one of the first companies to take advantage of the LP, which in 1950 was a new technology, replacing the 78-rpm discs that had previously owned the market. In 1985 Solomon sold Vanguard to the Welk record group, then in 1990 bought back Vanguard’s classical catalog from Welk. Vanguard was known for taking chances, and did so often in signing groups like the Weavers, who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and Paul Robeson, and also released the first recordings of Mahler’s “Knaben Wunderhorn.”

Solomon is survived by his brother Maynard, a sister, three daughters, a stepson and nine grandchildren.

Originally Published