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Two Montreal Jazzmen Die

The Montreal area lost two of its jazz musicians at Christmastime last year. Mark Wilkinson, who was one of the first bebop drummers in Montreal, died Dec. 25 at 81. Vic Angelillo, a bassist who kept a low profile and recorded mainly as a sideman for musicians on the Justin Time label, died Dec. 27 and was in his late 50s.

If Wilkinson, who went by “Wilkie,” wasn’t the first bebop bassist in Montreal, he was certainly on the city’s first bebop recording, “All The Things You Are” backed with “Wilk’s Bop,” a 1949 session featuring the rather large group of pianist Steep Wade, bassist Bob Rudd, violinist Willy Girard, trumpeter Allan Wellman, trombone Butch Watanabe, and saxophonists Herb Johnson and Freddie Nichols. Wilkinson also played on four tunes in an Oscar Peterson session in April of 1947, which can be heard on This Is Oscar Peterson at the Piano (Bluebird). He was cremated the day he died.

In addition to playing bass, Angelillo was a composer and arranger. Examples of his arrangements can be heard on singer Ranee Lee’s Deep Song and Musicals: Jazz on Broadway. On bass, Angelilo played often with trumpeter Denny Christianson, who led a big band that played at the 1986 Montreal Jazz Festival. Also in the band at the time was baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, who contributed charts for the set and who told writer Len Dobbin: “You know I wrote most of that music with George Mraz in mind and the only other bassist in New York that can really handle it is Ron Carter-and this cat [Vic] sight read it!” So Montreal seems to have lost a great bassist.

Originally Published