Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Three Obits: R.I.P.

I want to pay brief tribute to three musicians who have died at the end of this eventful year. The first to die, Odetta, is significant to me in that I saw her perform live at an Ann Arbor venue called Canterbury House (which I was surprised to learn is still in operation) in the late ‘Sixties. This was at the height of both the folk music craze and the civil rights movement. Odetta was significant to both. Canterbury House was important to me not only because I heard a lot of great music there in the ‘Sixties, but also because the minister who ran the place in those days performed my marriage ceremony in the University of Michigan campus chapel in 1969. Odetta sang this song the night I saw her perform.

The next to die was Freddie Hubbard. If you wanted to draw up a list of the top five jazz trumpeters of all time, Hubbard would have to be included. As I rank them you’d have: Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, and the fifth spot would be up for grabs. Lee Morgan? Miles Davis? Clifford Brown? Fats Navarro? Wynton Marsalis? I’m a Chet Baker fan. Over the years, Freddie Hubbard played with everybody. Here he is, playing with one of my favorite tenor sax men, Joe Henderson, and Herbie Hancock.

Finally, Delaney Bramlett. I don’t know that many people will know who he was. Even in the ‘Sixties, of which he was a figure who did not transcend the times, he wasn’t what you’d call a foreground figure. But he was big in the background. Here is Delaney, playing with his then wife, singer Bonnie, and some other guys… This is a nice clip. Give it a listen.