Looking back at 2020 for classical, jazz in Chicago


We can add to this year’s tragic toll other jazz giants who succumbed to other illnesses: 94-year-old Jazz Showcase founder Joe Segal, who did more than anyone apart from the musicians themselves to keep jazz alive in Chicago since 1947; 74-year-old author-critic Stanley Crouch, who always dared to say and write exactly what he believed, despite prevailing intellectual fashions; 81-year-old pianist McCoy Tyner, whose volcanic sound powered John Coltrane’s experiments and his own explosive bands; 88-year-old singer-pianist-songwriter Freddy Cole, Nat King Cole’s kid brother and a fervent champion of their family’s immense musical legacy; 89-year-old multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, who embodied the spirit of Chicago jazz, though he’d been living in Florida for decades; 90-year-old trumpeter Art Hoyle, who had played for everyone from Sun Ra and Red Saunders to Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee; 72-year-old saxophonist Richie Cole, whose nearly frenetic, emotionally charged performances helped explain why he’d called his band Alto Madness; 93-year-old saxophonist Jimmy Heath, a bebop master from one of jazz’s most esteemed families; 78-year-old trumpeter and jazz polymath Bob Ojeda, who could play, compose, arrange, conduct and more at the highest levels; 87-year-old pianist Larry Novak; and 71-year-old saxophonist-educator Mark Colby.


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