On September 24, 2021, Alfred James Ellis aka Pee Wee Ellis died aged 80. He was musician (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, flute, keyboards), arranger and composer, worked as musical director and arranger with George Benson, Hank Crawford and Esther Phillips. Ellis recorded and performed with David Liebman, Jack McDuff, Rebirth Brass Band, Shirley Scott, Sonny Stitt, Leon Thomas, Van Morrison, Ginger Baker’s jazz Confusion, The JB Horns, Maceo Parker, Brass Fever, Ali Farka Touré and The Dapps, but was best known as longtime collaborator of James Brown. He co-wrote and recorded some of Brown’s best-known songs like “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Cold Sweat”. As leader Ellis released 13 albums.
On December 18, 2011, Ralph Anthony MacDonald died aged 67. He was musician (percussion, steelpan), songwriter, arranger, record producer, and philanthropist. His best known compositions are “Where Is the Love”, a “Grammy Award” winner for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway duet), “Just the Two of Us” (recorded by Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr.), and “Mister Magic” (recorded by Grover Washington Jr.). MacDonald was member of the bands Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, Steelband Panorama, and Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. He recorded with many famous musicians including David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Art Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Carole King, Miriam Makeba, David Sanborn, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Luther Vandross, Amy Winehouse, Bob James, Ashford and Simpson, and The Brothers Johnson. As a leader MacDonald released ten albums.
On December 15, 1944, Alton Glenn Miller died aged 40. He was musician (trombone), composer, arranger, and big-band leader, working in the swing era. Leading the best known big band, in the period 1939 – 1942, he was the best-selling recording artist, with 16 number-one records, and 69 top ten hits (more than Elvis Presley and the Beatles in their careers). Three of his compositions were inducted into the “Grammy Hall of Fame” – in 1983 “In the Mood”, in 1996 “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, and in 1991 “Moonlight Serenade”.
On December 3, 2008, Derek Wadsworth died aged 69. He was musician (cornet, trombone, keyboards), composer and arranger. He was musical director for Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, and the musical “Hair”. As a musician and arranger he worked with Maynard Ferguson, Georgie Fame, Nina Simone, David Essex, Judy Garland, Humphrey Lyttelton, Graham Collier, Tonny Bennett, George Harrison, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick, Mike Oldfield, Simply Red, Kate Bush, Cat Stevens, Small Faces, Manferd Mann, and the Rolling Stones.
On November 10, 2015, Allen Toussaint died aged 77. He was musician (vocal, piano), songwriter, arranger, and record producer, an influential figure in New Orleans rhythm and blues from the 1950s to the end of the century. His compositions were recorded by many musicians, and he was producer of hundreds of recordings. Toussaint recorded and performed with many musicians including Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, The Meters, Ernie K Doe, Rosemary Butler, Merry Clayton, Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Venetta Fields, Etta James, Labelle, John Mayall, Paul McCartney, The Meters, Bonnie Raitt, and The Band. As leader Toussaint released eleven studio albums.
On August 25, 2000, Bernard Alfred Nitzsche aka Jack Nitzsche, died aged 63. He was a songwriter, composer, arranger, record producer, and musician, known for his work with Phil Spector, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Earl Palmer, Leon Russell, Roy Caton, Willy DeVille, Glen Campbell, and Graham Parker. He also worked in film scores, for films such as “Performance”, “The Exorcist” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Nitzsche released four solo albums and five OSR albums.
On August 24, 1998, Eugene Edgar Page Jr. aka Gene Page, died aged 58. He was a conductor, composer, arranger, and record producer, one of the most successful arrangers and conductors from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, who worked on more than 200 Platinum and gold records. He created specific sound in the arrangements, and work with numerous artists including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, George Benson, The Jackson 5, Jefferson Starship, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Roberta Flack, Elton John, Leo Sayer, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Frankie Valli, Helen Reddy, Lionel Richie, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Donna Loren, Martha and The Vandellas, Cher, Barry White, The Love Unlimited Orchestra, and Dionne Warwick. Page released four solo albums and composed soundtracks for few movies.
On August 5, 2013, George M. Duke died aged 67. He was a singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger, musician (keyboards), and professor of music. He worked with numerous artists such as Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderley, John Heard, Nat Adderley, Stanley Clarke, Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, Lynn Davis, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Billy Cobham, Sheila Escovedo, Jeffrey Osborne, Earth Wind & Fire, Kirk Whalum, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Flora Purim, and Al Jarreau.
On June 23, 2019, David Louis Bartholomew died aged 100. He was a musician (trumpet), bandleader, composer, arranger, and record producer, active in various musical genres, including rhythm and blues, big band, swing music, rock and roll, New Orleans jazz, and Dixieland. In his induction into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, he was cited as a key figure in the transition from jump blues and swing to R&B and as “one of the Crescent City’s greatest musicians and a true pioneer in the rock and roll revolution.” His biggest success as a composer was in the partnership with Fats Domino producing some of his greatest successes. In the mid-50s they wrote more than forty hits for “Imperial Records”, including Ain’t That a Shame. Bartholomew’s other hit songs include I Hear You Knocking, Blue Monday” I’m Walkin’, My Ding-A-Ling, and One Night. He was a member of the “Songwriters Hall of Fame”, the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, and the “Louisiana Music Hall of Fame”.
On May 2, 2020, Richie Cole died aged 72. He was composer, arranger and musician (saxophone), began to play alto saxophone when he was ten years old, encouraged by his father, who owned a jazz club in New Jersey. In the 70’ he created his own “alto madness” bebop style. In the 90’s he formed The Alto Madness Orchestra. Cole recorded and performed with many musicians such as Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Doc Severinsen, Eddie Jefferson, Nancy Wilson, Tom Waits, The Manhattan Transfer, Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Kloss, Bobby Enriquez, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Greg Abate, Les DeMerle, Allan Harris, Jim Holman, Vic Juris, Peter Lauffer, Oliver Nelson, Anita O’Day, Red Rodney, Janine Santana, Mark Murphy, Sonny Stitt and Boots Randolph. In 2005, Cole was awarded the “State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz” on behalf of the “Temecula Jazz Society”.