Not a month went by this year without too many figures from the world of…
Not a month went by this year without too many figures from the world of jazz and blues bidding us farewell. Here is a look at some of those we lost.JOHN ABERCROMBIE (December 16, 1944 – August 22, 2017): American guitarist, composer, and bandleader. Known for his spare, understated, and eclectic style. His work explored jazz fusion, post-bop, free jazz, and avant-garde jazz. Recorded his debut album Timeless (1975) and most of his subsequent albums with Manfred Eicher's ECM label. Throughout his career, he also played with such artists as Billy Cobham, Ralph Towner, Charles Lloyd, and Jack DeJohnette.
MUHAL RICHARD ABRAMS (September 19, 1930 - October 29, 2017): American pianist, cellist, clarinetist, educator, composer, and arranger. Pioneer of the free jazz movement. Also composed for symphony orchestra, string quartets, solo piano, voice, and big bands in addition to making a series of larger ensemble recordings that included harp and accordion. Recognized with an NEA Jazz Master Award in 2010.
GERI ALLEN (June 12, 1957 – June 27, 2017): American jazz pianist and composer. Aside from her recording and performing career, Allen was an Associate Professor of Music and the Director of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She also portrayed Mary Lou Williams in Robert Altman's film Kansas City (1996).
GREGG ALLMAN (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017): American singer-songwriter and musician. Southern rock pioneer. Known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band, which fused rhythm and blues with rock, jazz, and country. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Georgia Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also had a successful solo career, releasing several albums.
TOMMY ALLSUP (November 24, 1931 – January 11, 2017): American rockabilly and swing musician. The last surviving member of Buddy Holly's "touring" Crickets for the 1959 Winter Dance Party.
SVEND ASMUSSEN (28 February 1916 – 7 February 2017): Danish jazz violinist known as "The Fiddling Viking." Played and recorded with such swing era greats as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, and continued to play publicly until 2010.
DAVID AXELROD (April 17, 1931 - February 5, 2017): American composer, producer, and arranger. Became known in the mid-60's in soul and jazz for his recording skills and embarked on a solo career in 1968, releasing several eccentric albums during the 70's that combined heavily microphoned drums and baroque orchestration, and avant-garde themes ranging from the environment to heightened mental awareness, fusing elements of jazz, rock, and R&B.
WALTER BECKER (February 20, 1950 – September 3, 2017): American guitarist, bassist, songwriter, and record producer. Co-founder of jazz-rock band Steely Dan. Steely Dan's 2000 album, Two Against Nature, won four GRAMMY Awards and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Becker also recorded two solo albums and produced albums for such artists as China Seas and Rosie Vela.
CHUCK BERRY (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017): American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Pioneer of rock and roll music and for writing such quintessential songs as "Maybelline," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Roll Over Beethoven." He refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive and influenced subsequent rock musicians. Among the honors he received in his lifetime are the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (1984) and the Kennedy Center Honors (2000).
JOHN BLACKWELL (September 9, 1973 – July 4, 2017): American drummer. Son of jazz drummer John Blackwell, Sr. Launched his career at 17, backing Billy Eckstine. Best known for his work with Prince, and as a member of D'Angelo's backing band The Vanguard. Toured with Justin Timberlake in 2006.
ARTHUR BLYTHE (July 5, 1940 – March 27, 2017): American alto saxophonist and composer. Worked with such artists as Chico Hamilton, Gil Evans, Jack DeJohnette, and McCoy Tyner. Began to record as a leader in 1977. Critic Chris Kelsey once described his alto sax sound as "one of the most easily recognizable" in jazz.
JOHN BOUDREAUX (December 10, 1936 - January 14, 2017): American jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues drummer. Played with such artists as Billy Eckstine, Big Mama Thornton, Dinah Washington, and Clarence "Frogman" Henry.
LONNIE BROOKS (December 18, 1933 - April 1, 2017): American blues singer and guitarist. Renowned for his trademark "voodoo blues" sound that included elements of Chicago blues, Louisiana blues, swamp pop, and rhythm and blues.
BRUNO CANFORA (November 6, 1924 – August 5, 2017): Italian composer, conductor, and arranger. Composed songs for such vocalists as Shirley Bassey and Ornella Vanoni and wrote the original scores of such films as Ladislao Vajda's The Man Who Wagged His Tail (1957) and Mateo Cano's Fall of the Mohicans (1956).
FRANK CAPP (August 20, 1931 – September 12, 2017): American drummer. Began playing with Stan Kenton in 1951. Later played with such artists as Chet Baker, Anita O'Day, and Joe Pass. Often accompanied Peggy Lee on tour and played on numerous rock and roll sides. He is considered to be a member of The Wrecking Crew.
RALPH CARNEY (January 23, 1956 - December 16, 2017): American singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist; his primary instruments were various saxophones and clarinets. Best known for his association with Tom Waits. Worked with many artists and released a number of solo albums.
BARBARA CARROLL (January 25, 1925 – February 12, 2017): American pianist. Worked with Charlie Byrd and Benny Goodman in the 1940's. Her trio worked on Me and Juliet by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the 1950's. Toured with Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson in 1978. Leonard Feather dubbed her "the first girl to ever play bebop piano." Awarded the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
JOHN COATES JR. (February 17, 1938 – November 22, 2017): American pianist, composer, and arranger. Skilled improviser. Also occasionally played vibraphone and clarinet. He regularly performed at the Deer Inn and the Celebration of the Arts in the Pocono Mountains for fifty years.
KELAN COHRAN (May 8, 1927 – June 28, 2017): American multi-instrumentalist. Best known for playing trumpet win the Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago from 1959 to 1961, and for his involvement in the foundation of the AACM. Inventor of the Frankiphone. Father of eight of the nine members of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Taught voice and music to inner city youth and adults at Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies.
LARRY CORYELL (April 2, 1943 - February 19, 2017): American jazz guitarist. Known as "Godfather of Fusion." Pioneer of jazz-rock. Known for a guitar style that owed as much to blues, rock, and country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences. His formation of the group The Eleventh House in 1973 and The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía in 1996 are among the highlights of his career.
JAMES COTTON (July 1, 1935 - March 16, 2017): American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter. Worked with such artists as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Played in the latter's GRAMMY-winning album Hard Again (1977). He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at a ceremony conducted by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2006.
JOHNCRITCHINSON (24 December 1934 – 15 December 2017): English pianist. Also known as "Critch." Became a member of Ronnie Scott's Quartet in 1979 until it folded in 1995. During that time, he worked with many visiting American artists, including Chet Baker, Joe Henderson, and George Coleman. In the early 1980's he was associated with the British jazz fusion duo Morrissey–Mullen.
BOB CUNNINGHAM (December 28, 1934 – April 1, 2017): American bassist. Member of The 3B's with Bross Townsend Purdie. Worked with such artists as Gary Bartz, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, and with The Jazz Composer's Orchestra. As a leader, he recorded the album Walking Bass in 1985.
WILSON DAS NEVES (June 14, 1936 - August 26, 2017): Brazilian bossa nova percussionist and singer. Can be heard in over 600 records from the greatest Brazilian artists. Worked with many international acts, such as Sarah Vaughan and Toots Thielemans. In 2016, he appeared in a segment of the Rio 2016 Olympics opening ceremony with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Anitta.
CEDELL DAVIS (June 9, 1926 - September 27, 2017): American blues guitarist and singer. Regarded as a master of slide guitar playing.
LAUDIR DE OLIVEIRA (January 6, 1940 - September 17, 2017): Brazilian musician and producer. Best known for his time as percussionist and band Chicago. Worked with many jazz greats, such as Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Nina Simone.
FATS DOMINO (February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017): American pianist and singer-songwriter. One of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Had eleven Top 10 hits between 1955 and 1960, including his 1956 recording of "Blueberry Hill." One of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986). Learned to play piano in about 1938 from his brother-in-law, the jazz guitarist Harrison Verrett.
JIMMY DOTSON (October 19, 1933 - March 26, 2017): American blues singer, guitarist, and drummer. Co-writer of "I Need Your Love" with Jerry West. Played alongside such artists as Buddy Guy and Isaac Hayes.
BILL DOWDY (August 15, 1932 – May 12, 2017): American jazz and blues drummer, pianist, and educator. A former member of jazz piano trio The Three Sounds, who played with such artists as Anita O'Day, Sonny Stitt, Nat Adderley, and Lester Young.
ERROL DYERS (29 March 1952 – 21 July 2017): South African guitarist and composer. Pioneer of Cape jazz and goema. Performed alongside such musicians as Abdullah Ibrahim, Winston Mankunku, and Robbie Jansen. A former member of the Sheer All Stars. Once described by Molly Baron as "a genius."
LARRY ELGART (March 20, 1922 – August 29, 2017): American bandleader and alto saxophonist. In 1954 recorded "Bandstand Boogie," the theme to the long-running dance show American Bandstand, with his brother, trumpeter Les Elgart. They split in 1959, each subsequently releasing his own series of LPs.
WENDELL EUGENE (October 12, 1923 – November 7, 2017): American trombonist. For a time, the oldest active jazz musician in New Orleans. Recorded with such artists as Lionel Ferbos, Harold Dejan, and Kermit Ruffins.
VINCENT FALCONE (November 7, 1938 - March 24, 2017): American pianist and conductor. Music director for many of the Las Vegas entertainers of his time, including Frank Sinatra from 1976-1982 and again from 1985-1986.
ROY FISHER (11 June 1930 – 21 March 2017): English poet and jazz pianist. Though best known for his poetry, he sustained a second career as a jazz musician and self-taught pianist form the 1950's. Worked with Bud Freeman and Wild Bill Davison when they toured Britain.
GUITAR GABLE (August 17, 1937 - January 28, 2017): American Louisiana blues, swamp blues, and swamp pop guitarist. Best known for recording the original version of "This Should Go On Forever" in 1958 and for his role in the vibrant swamp blues and pop scene in Louisiana in the 50's and early 60's.
LOU GARE (16 June 1939 – 6 October 2017): English free-jazz saxophonist. Best known for his works with the improvised music ensemble AMM and as a former member of the group Synchronicity. Also recorded solo saxophone albums, including No Strings Attached (2005).
J. GEILS (February 20, 1946 - April 11, 2017): American jazz, blues, and rock guitarist. Best known as the leader of the J. Geils Band that released several Top 40 singles in the early 1970's.
BUDDY GRECO (August 14, 1926 - January 10, 2017): American jazz and pop singer and pianist. During his career, he recorded over sixty albums. His version of "The Lady is a Tramp," released in the 50's, sold over one million copies and became his most successful single. He also conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, performed for Queen Elizabeth II, and with The Beatles.
ATLE HAMMER (11 March 1932 – 22 October 2017): Norwegian engineer and jazz musician. Central on the jazz scene in Oslo, establishing himself among the leading trumpeters in Norway in the 1950's. Played and recorded as a leader and with such artists as Pepper Adams, George Russell, Bjarne Nerem, and James Moody.
COL. BRUCE HAMPTON (April 30, 1947 - May 1, 2017): American rock and fusion musician. One of the founding members of the Hampton Grease Band and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. The latter is described by Allmusic as "an eclectic congregation adept at everything from country-swing jazz to meltdown Southern boogie and over-amped gospel bluegrass."
JON HENDRICKS (September 16, 1921 – November 22, 2017): American jazz lyricist and singer. Known as one of the originators of vocalese and for his scat singing skills. Recognized with an NEA Jazz Master in 1993, multiple GRAMMY Awards, an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and, in 2004, he was honored in France with a Legion of Honor. Time once dubbed him the "James Joyce of Jive."
BUCK HILL (February 13, 1927 - March 20, 2017): American jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist. Played with Charlie Byrd in 1958-59 and began recording extensively as a leader in the 1970's.
FRANK HOLDER (2 April 1925 – 29 October 2017): Guyanese singer and percussionist. A key member of the U.K. jazz scene since arriving from Guyana during WWII. A former member of bands led by Leslie George "Jiver" Hutchinson, Johnny Dankworth and Joe Harriott. Awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1994.
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH (August 6, 1946 - April 15, 2017): British guitarist and composer. Considered one of the finest instrumentalists of jazz fusion. Worked with various well known prog-rock and jazz fusion artists, such as Soft Machine and Jean-Luc Ponty, before launching a solo career in the late 1970's that, over the years, saw him release over twenty albums. Frank Zappa once lauded him as "one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet."
AL JARREAU (March 12, 1940 - February 12, 2017): American singer and musician. Received a total of seven GRAMMY Awards. Perhaps best known for his 1981 Breakin' Away album, which hit #1 on the Jazz and R&B Billboard charts, Jarreau also toured and performed with such artists as Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, and George Benson, and received a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame on March 6, 2001.
CASEY JONES (July 26, 1939 - May 3, 2017): American drummer, singer and record producer. Recorded with such blues artists as Albert Collins and Johnny Winter.
EGIL KAPSTAD (August 6, 1940 - July 13, 2017): Norwegian jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. Wrote the music for more than 50 productions for theater, film, and television drama. Worked with such jazz musicians a Chet Baker, Red Mitchell, and Karin Krog. He is also known for his longstanding collaboration with poet Jan Erik Vold.
FUMIO KARASHIMA (9 March 1948 – 24 February 2017): Japanese pianist. Began playing professionally in 1975 after joining drummer George Ohtsuka's band. Worked with Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine for five years from 1950. Led a quintet in the late 80's. Toured internationally during the 1990's.
THANDIE KLAASEN (27 September 1931 – 15 January 2017): South African jazz musician. Began her career as singer and dancer in the mid-1950s. Awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver (2006) for "excellent achievement in and contribution to the art of Music" and a lifetime achievement award at the 2006 South African Music Awards.
TOMMY LIPUMA (July 5, 1936 – March 13, 2017): American music producer. Worked with such artists as Miles Davis, Bill Evans, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Natalie Cole, and Diana Krall. Won five GRAMMYS and his productions sold over 75 million albums.
CHUCK LOEB (December 7, 1955 - July 31, 2017): American jazz guitarist. Member of the groups Step Ahead and Fourplay.
MUNDELL LOWE (April 21, 1922 - December 2, 2017): American jazz guitarist. Played with such artists as Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Lester Young. Responsible for introducing Bill Evans to Orrin Keepnews. Inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame in 1998. Produced music and scores for many TV shows, including Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack (1971) and Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972).
KEVIN MAHOGANY (July 30, 1958 - December 17, 2017): American jazz vocalist. Became prominent in the 1990's. Known for his scat singing skills and often compared to such singers as Billy Eckstine and Joe Williams. Recorded his first solo album, Double Rainbow, in 1993. Appeared in Robert Altman's film Kansas City (1996).
ROD MASON (28 September 1940 – 8 January 2017): English trumpeter and vocalist. Prominent Trad Jazz musician. Founded numerous bands throughout his career and played with such artists as Brian Lemon and Acker Bilk. In 1985, he founded the Hot Five band. Digby Fairweather once noted his "frightening ability to sound like Louis Armstrong."
TOM MCCLUNG (April 4, 1957 – May 14, 2017): American pianist and composer. Released several albums as a leader and sideman. Toured and recorded internationally as a member of the Archie Schepp quartet. Composed and performed the music for the film Wall to Wall by Patric Jean (2008).
ANDY MCGHEE (November 3, 1927 – October 12, 2017): American tenor saxophonist and educator. Played in the bands of Woody Herman and Lionel Hampton. Joined the Berklee College of Music in 1966 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from college in 2006.
THARA MEMORY (??,1948 - June 17, 2017): American trumpeter and educator. Won a GRAMMY Award in the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) category for his arrangement of Esperanza Spalding's track "City of Roses" from the album Radio Music Society in 2013.
MISHA MENGELBERG (5 June 1935 – 3 March 2017): Dutch pianist and composer. A prominent figure in post-WWII European Jazz. Known for his forays into free improvisation, humor, and as a leading interpreter of songs by Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. Won the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1961.
SUNNY MURRAY (September 21, 1936 – December 7, 2017): American drummer. Pioneer of the free jazz style of drumming; among the first to forgo the drummer's traditional role as a timekeeper in favor of purely textural playing. Worked with Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler. Recorded under his own name for ESP-Disk and BYG Actuel.
CHRIS MURRELL (December 18, 1956 – June 18, 2017): American jazz and gospel singer. Toured as the featured vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra from the late 80's to the early 2000's. Also made appearances with the Roger Humphreys band. Tony Bennett once called him "one of my favorite singers."
JIMMY NALLS (May 31, 1951 - June 22, 2017): American guitarist. Known as a founding member of the blues-rock band Sea Level.
BERN NIX (September 21, 1947 - May 31, 2017): American jazz guitarist. Recorded and performed with Ornette Coleman from 1975-87.
DICK NOEL (??,1926/1927 - October 27, 2017): American big band vocalist. He sang with the Ray Anthony Orchestra, including on the hit "Count Every Star" (1950), and recorded singles for the Decca and Fraternity labels. In 1978, he recorded and released the album A Time for Love with pianist Larry Novak before retiring to San Diego.
HORACE PARLAN (January 19, 1931 - February 23, 2017): American hard bop and post-bop pianist and composer, best known for his contributions to the Charles Mingus albums Mingus Ah Um (1959) and Blues & Roots (1960).
DON PAYNE (January 7, 1933 - February 25, 2017): American bassist. Worked with such artists as Ornette Coleman, Maynard Ferguson, Herbie Mann, and Leonard Cohen. In the late 50's, he led his own ensemble with a rotating cast of sidemen, including Joe Beck and Gene Bertoncini.
DAVE PELL (February 26, 1925 – May 7, 2017): American saxophonist and bandleader. Best known for leading an octet in the 1950's; among its players were Pepper Adams, Mel Lewis, and Art Pepper. He also played as a sideman for Shorty Rogers, Benny Goodman, and Gene Krupa. In the 1970s, he assembled the group Prez Conference, a Lester Young tribute ensemble.
RAY PHIRI (March 23, 1947 - July 12, 2017): South African jazz, fusion, and mbaqanga musician. Collaborated with Paul Simon on Graceland (1985), became a founding member of the Cannibal in the 1970's and, later, Stimela.
WILLIE PICKENS (April 18, 1931 - December 12, 2017): American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and educator. Played with Buddy Franco, Louis Bellson, and Elvin Jones.
ROBERT POPWELL (December 29, 1950 - November 27, 2017): American jazz-funk bassist. A former member of The Young Rascals, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Also performed with such artists as Al Jarreau, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, and Greg Allman.
SKIP PROKOP (December 13, 1943 - August 30, 2017): Canadian rock and jazz fusion drummer and bandleader. Best known for creating seminal Canadian rock bands, including The Paupers.
BEN RILEY (July 17, 1933 – November 18, 2017): American drummer. Known for his work with Thelonious Monk, Alice Coltrane, Stan Getz, Kenny Barron, and Woody Herman, and as a member of the group Sphere. During the 1970's, he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet.
STAN ROBINSON (April 13, 1936-April 9, 2017): English jazz tenor saxophonist and flutist. Played with such British acts as The Downbeat Big Band and the BBC Radio Orchestra. Toured with Aretha Franklin, Andy Williams, and Dizzy Gillespie. During the 2000's he co-led a trio with Geoff Castle, often working with Frank Holder.
MICKEY ROKER (September 3, 1932 – May 22, 2017): American drummer. Skilled in both big-band and small-group settings. Played with such artist as Jimmy Heath, Sam Reed, Gigi Gryce, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Rollins. In 1992, he replaced Connie Kay in the Modern Jazz Quartet. Was still active on the Philadelphia scene during the 21st century before his death.
RUDY ROTTA (October 14, 1950 - July 3, 2017): Italian blues guitarist. Played alongside such artists as John Mayall and Peter Green.
ROSWELL RUDD (November 17, 1935 - December 21, 2017): American jazz trombonist and composer. Known for his work in free and avant-garde jazz. Worked extensively with saxophonist Archie Shepp since 1962. Also worked with such artists as Cecil Taylor, Gato Barbieri, and Pharoah Sanders. In 1990, his album Monk's Dream was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Vocal Performance Male and Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
JANET SEIDEL (28 May 1955 – 7 August 2017): Australian vocalist and pianist. An active member of the Adelaide Feminist Theatre Group from 1976 to 1980. Her albums were nominated for such prizes as the ARIA Music Award and her album Moon of Manakoora won the Bell Album for Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album in 2006.
CHARLES "BOBO" SHAW (September 5, 1947 – January 16, 2017): American drummer. Best known for his work in free jazz. A prominent member of the Human Arts Ensemble and as a founding member of the Black Artists Group. Played with such artists as Lester Bowie, Oliver Lake, and Cecil Taylor.
JOHN SHIFFLETT (March 22, 1953 – April 27, 2017): American jazz double bassist, arranger, composer, and educator. Played with such artists as Kurt Elling, Norma Winstone, Boz Scaggs, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Red Holloway. His last teaching job was at San Jose State University.
KEELY SMITH (March 9, 1928 - December 16, 2017): American jazz and popular music singer. Performed and recorded extensively with then-husband Louis Prima, with whom she won the first Grammy for Best Performance by a Vocal Group for "That Ol' Black Magic," before performing throughout the 1960's as a solo artist.
TOBY SMITH (October 29, 1970 - April 11, 2017): British keyboardist. Most famous for being the keyboardist of acid jazz band Jamiroquai from 1992 until his departure in 2002.
CHUCK STEWART (May 21, 1927 – January 20, 2017): American photographer. Best known for his portraits of jazz singers and musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis, as well as artists in the R&B and salsa genres. His photographs have graced more than 2,000 album covers.
CLYDE STUBBLEFIELD (April 18, 1943 – February 18, 2017): American drummer. Known for his work with James Brown. Often uncredited, samples of his drum patterns are heavily used in hip-hop. In 2014 Stubblefield was named the second best drummer of all time by LA Weekly. In 2017, he was awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate of fine arts by the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
GRADY TATE (January 14, 1932 – October 8, 2017): American hard bop and soul-jazz drummer and singer. In addition to his work as a sideman for such artists as Charles Mingus, Nat Adderley, and Budd Johnson, he was the drummer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for six years, played drums and percussion for Simon and Garfunkel's concert in Central Park in 1981, and released many albums as leader and vocalist.
AVO UVEZIAN (March 22, 1926 – March 24, 2017): Armenian-American jazz pianist, composer, and cigar manufacturer. After traveling to the U.S., he performed with Bob Hope and Dean Martin and wrote "Broken Guitar," the prototype for "Strangers in the Night," later recorded by Frank Sinatra. Created Avo Cigars in the 1980's.
DAVE VALENTIN (April 29, 1952 – March 8, 2017): American Latin jazz flutist. Taught himself to play the flute to a Herbie Mann record and recorded Two Amigos (1990) year later. First musician signed to GRP Records; he recorded his debut album in 1977. For seven years in a row, he was chosen best jazz flutist by readers of Jazziz Magazine.
BEA WAIN (April 30, 1917 - August 19, 1917): American singer and radio personality of the Big Band era. Had a number of hits with Larry Clinton and His Orchestra.
ROBERT WALKER (February 19, 1937 - November 29, 2017): American blues guitarist, known for his showmanship. Released first album in 1997 and appeared in the documentary I Am the Blues.
LEO WELCH (March 22, 1932 - December 19, 2017): American gospel blues guitarist. Lumberjack for thirty years while he learned his musical craft in the Mississippi Delta. Released first album, Sabougia Voices, in 2014.
GRAHAM WOOD (15 September 1971 – 19 July 2017): Australian jazz pianist and educator. Taught piano at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth, Australia, in 2001, became head of the jazz department in 2005, and Program Director of Music in 2006.