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JT Notes: Honoring the Departed of 2020

Editor Mac Randall opens our March 2021 issue by remembering a year of many passings

Diane Moser 1957-2020
Pianist and composer Diane Moser (7/29/57–12/17/20), one of at least 85 noteworthy members of the jazz world who died in 2020 (photo: Dennis Connors Photography)

At a press conference five hours after the World Trade Center’s twin towers fell on September 11, 2001, Rudy Giuliani, then the mayor of New York City, said something that no one who was listening will ever forget: “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ­ultimately.” In January 2021, as I write this column, more Americans are dying every day than perished at the southern tip of Manhattan on that horrible morning nearly two decades ago. Every day is more than any of us can bear.

In the spring of 2020, the jazz community suffered blow after devastating blow in the COVID-19 pandemic. The passing of Wallace Roney, who is beautifully memorialized in our March issue by Ashley Kahn, now strikes me as the moment when musicians and music fans alike realized that we were truly facing a serious problem. And it just got worse from there.

By summer, due largely to the total cancellation of live events, the number of jazz COVID casualties had dwindled. Yet the losses continued. So much so that the creation of the March 2021 JazzTimes, featuring our annual In Memoriam tributes to those who passed in the preceding year, became a major challenge: Given the number of pages we had to work with, how could we include everyone who deserved to be included?

We finally settled on publishing personal tributes to 20 individuals, and honoring another 14 elsewhere in the issue; one additional tribute is online-only. But that still leaves more than 50 people—at least—who could (and, some might argue, should) just as well have been featured here. I list their names below, in chronological order of their passing.

Bob Gullotti; Lucien Barbarin; Jon Christensen; Bill Smith; Ed Stoute; Marcelo Peralta; Danny Ray Thompson; Don Burrows; Hitoshi Namekata; Mike Longo; Olle Holmquist; Freddy Rodriguez, Sr.; Pat Longo; Bob Ojeda; Lyn Christie; Alex Layne; Betty Bennett; Hal Willner; Eddy Davis; Michael Cogswell; Phil Broadhurst; Fred Tillis; Dick Rosenzweig; Holli Ross; Jay Edwards; Donn Trenner; John Cumming; Bob “Brother Ah” Northern; Keith Tippett; Hugh Fraser; Khari Parker; Roy Okutani; Cleveland Eaton; Eddie Gale; Don McCaslin; Helen Jones Woods; Chip White; Joe Segal; Park Sung-yeon; Peter King; Mark Colby; Toni Belengeur; Toshinori Kondo; Baron Wolman; Cándido Camero; Marcos Resende; Andrew White; Zusaan Kali Fasteau; Russ Neff; Diane Moser; and Claude Bolling.

Farewell to you all, thank you for your service to music, and may you rest in peace.

In Memoriam: Tributes to 2020’s Departed Jazz Greats

Originally Published
Mac Randall

Mac Randall

Mac Randall has been the editor of JazzTimes since May 2018. Prior to that, he wrote regularly for the magazine. He has written about numerous genres of music for a wide variety of publications over the past 30 years, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, Mojo, and Guitar Aficionado, and he has worked on the editorial staffs of Musician, LAUNCH (now Yahoo! Music), Guitar One, Teaching Music, Music Alive!, and In Tune Monthly. He is the author of two books, Exit Music: The Radiohead Story and 101 Great Playlists. He lives in New York City.