Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Elliott Carter has died at the age of 103. Born in 1908 in New York City, he studied composition with Nadia Boulanger. His String Quartet No.1 brought critical acclaim, and four more quartets followed over the years. In 2002, the New York Times called his string quartets “the most difficult music ever conceived.” In addition to symphonic works, he composed concertos for various instruments, including his Violin Concerto (1990) and Cello Concerto for Yo-Yo Ma (2000). Elliott Carter received the 1985 Ernst von Siemens Prize, the Sibelius Medal, the National Medal of the Arts and the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and was the first living composer honored with a BBC Proms centenary concert in 2008. ISB member Robert black remembers his meeting with Carter: “A few years ago, I had the honor to be privately coached by Elliott Carter on his solo bass piece Figment III. I knocked on his Greenwich Village apartment door and was greeted by the smiling, sharp, and affable composer. Shortly after I had begun to play the piece, Mr. Carter stopped me and asked if I would mind if we went through the piece measure by measure. Two hours later, we were finished. He told me exactly how every phrase, articulation, dynamic – every detail – of the piece was to be played. Mr. Carter was full of energy, enthusiasm and wit, a warm and charming person with a delightful twinkle in his eye. Afterward, he was apologetic as he told me that he would like to invite me for lunch but that he was too tired to make anything. He thanked me for coming and I left. It was one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever had.”
Erik Moseholm died in October at age 82. He was a major figure in Denmark, where was an energetic and popular advocate on the jazz scene. “He was still extremely active – writing, playing, organizing, inspiring everyone he met with. He had performances scheduled with his wife, Vigga Bro, a storyteller whom Erik would accompany on his beloved old Italian Perugino double bass,” observed Ture Damhus of the Danish Double Bass Society. He was trained as a school teacher and bass player and was active in classical and jazz music in the 1950s. He connected with Oscar Pettiford when Pettiford came to Denmark, and they wrote the study book Jazz Bass Facing together. Erik preceded Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen as Denmark’s premier jazz bassist. The two played together in the 1960s and there are some recordings of their collaborations. In 1958, Erik was named European jazz bass player of the year. At the beginning of the 1960s, Erik made the dramatic decision to largely discontinue his career as a performer and became involved with Danish state radio, in particular the radio jazz group that later became the Danish Radio Big Band. The next fifty years saw Erik producing, organizing, composing, writing and always working on behalf of the bass and for jazz. He was active in the Danish Bass Society right from its founding in 1987. He was the first principal bass of the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Lately, Erik’s primary focus was the International Cultural Insitution Swinging Europe and the European Jazz Youth Orchestra, the largest jazz project in the European Union. He recently published Be on time, a book of experiences shared with the musicians of the EJYO. Denmark and the worldwide jazz community will miss him.
Derrick Lewis — 08/26/2012
The Houston, Texas jazz community is mourning the loss of Derrick Lewis, who died August 26, 2012 when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle. He is survived by his wife, Anne Lundy, and son Gregory. A memorial service has been tentatively planned for 3 pm, Monday, Sept 3, 2012 at St. Mary’s United Methodist Church, 6731 Scott St., with a musical tribute and jam session at the church afterwards.
Ken Braun — 08/02/2012
Ken Braun of Casco, Michigan, died August 2, 2012 at age 56. Ken was a music instructor for Hansen Pro Music in Port Huron. He also taught at Ardis Music Store in Mt. Clemens and was a substitute teacher at Anchor Bay High School. He played with the bands Brazil and Beyond, Macombers and the Adam Allens Band. The Ken Braun Memorial Fund has been established. Send donations (checks payable to “Ken Braun’s Family”) to Ardis Music, 49 N. Walnut St., Mt Clemens, MI 48063.
Audrey E. Bush — 07/31/2012
Audrey E. Bush died July 31, 2012. She was 92 years old. Audrey was raised in Ogden, Utah. After high school, she attended the University of Utah and studied music education, receiving her master’s degree in 1949. For many years she was principal bass with the Seattle Symphony, and then for 35 years she was principal bass of the Utah Symphony. She was a charter member of the Las Vegas Philharmonic, serving as principal bass from 1998 until her retirement in 2003, at which time she was awarded the title of “Principal Emeritus.” She traveled the world with her music and was profiled in Bass World magazine by her friend and fan Gary Karr. Donations in her memory can be made to the “Foundation to Assist Young Musicians (FAYM)” to create a scholarship in Audrey’s name at FAYM, 9513 Coral Way, Las Vegas, NV 89117.
Andy Wolf — 06/22/2012
Andy Wolf died June 22, 2012 at age 96. He was a long-time member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra bass section. Besides being an accomplished bassist, he also was a luthier and was for many years a partner of David Horine running The Bass Viol Shop in Cincinnati. He is survived by his wife, Emily Hodges.
Nabil Totah — 06/07/2012
Nabil Totah died June 7, 2012. He was 82 years old. Born in Ramallah, Jordan, ‘Nobby’ Totah played violin and piano as a child. He relocated to the U.S. in 1944 and studied political science before deciding on a career in music. Taking up the bass in 1953, he played in army bands and with Hampton Hawes and Toshiko Akiyoshi in Japan. Upon his return to the U.S. following his military service, he played briefly with Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and then began long-time, intermittent spells in groups led by Gene Krupa and by Johnny Smith. Also during the 1950s and 1960s, Totah played with a wide range of artists including Eddie Costa, Tal Farlow, Bobby Jaspar, Herbie Mann, Zoot Sims and Phil Woods, and worked in bands led by Benny Goodman, Bobby Hackett, Max Kaminsky, Lee Konitz and Hazel Scott. In addition, Totah led his own small groups with a distinguished array of sidemen. A memorial concert was held on August 20th in New York City for Totah featuring performances by Toshiko Akiyoshi, David Amram, Don Friedman, Lee Konitz, Mike Longo, Lew Tabackin and many others.
It is with great sadness that the ISB announces the passing of one of our bass family, Louisa Womack. Louisa soloed with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. She began her studies in Rochester with Gaelen McCormick, continuing with James VanDemark. She spent her summers at the Bowdoin International Music Festival with Kurt Muroki, and at the Perlman Music Program with Rachel Calin. She attended the ISB’s 2009 Convention at Penn State University in State College as part of the Young Bassists Program, and was in her second year at the Curtis Institute of Music studying with Harold Robinson and Edgar Meyer. Louisa was a kind, gentle, caring and giving soul who never hesitated to help those around her who were in need, and she was a fantastic bassist who from an early age developed her own special musical voice, all qualities that we as ISB members aspire to.
Says Louisa’s sister, Margaret Womack, a cellist at the Eastman School of Music: “We are having a gathering for friends and family, anyone who knew and loved Louisa Womack, at the Daisy Flour Mill on Blossom Road in Rochester on Friday, May 11th from 7 to 9 pm. Instead of flowers, we’ve established a fund for The Perlman Music Program in my sister’s memory because she cherished her summers there – they were some of the happiest times of her life. If anyone is interested here is the link. Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me and my family.”
Jim Clute, former associate principal bassist of the Minnesota Orchestra, died on March 7th, 2012. Jim was born in Iowa City, Iowa on July 17, 1933. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Iowa. Jim was stationed in Germany with the Seventh Army Symphony from 1957 to 1958. in 1988, Jim was awarded Minnesota ASTA’s ‘String Teacher of the Year’. He was a member of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) and served frequently on contract negotiating committees for the Minnesota Orchestra. He taught at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, St. Olaf College in Northfield, and the University of Minnesota. He is survived by his son, Steven, and granddaughter Annie. He will be remembered by his friends, colleagues and the many private students he taught through the years in his spare time. Memorials may be made to Twin Cities Musicians Union Young Musicians Scholarship Fund, http://www.TCMU.com.
As reported by Adam Bernstein of The Washington Post, double bassist Joe Byrd, brother of the late guitarist Charlie Byrd, died March 6, 2012 from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was 78.
Joe and his brother Charlie were at the forefront of the Brazilian jazz movement of the 1960s and together they worked steadily for the next four decades. They were goodwill ambassadors for the State Department and performed for presidents at the White House.
Joe Byrd enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore on the G.I. Bill after serving in the army. In 1962, he graduated with a degree in double bass and a teaching certificate, and succeeded Keter Betts in his brother’s group. After his brother’s death in 1999, Joe formed his own trio and recorded several albums.
He is survived by his wife, attorney Elana Rhodes, whom he married in 1977, stepson Jeffrey House and another brother Jack Byrd. A memorial service is planned for March 24th at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (Maryland).
John Levy — 01/20/2012
John Levy, NEA Jazz Master and a bassist who became a prominent manager of major jazz artists, died Jan. 20th in Altadena, Calif., at age 99. As reported by Jeff Tamarkin for Jazz Times magazine, he was credited as the first African-American business manager in the jazz field. His clients included Wes Montgomery, Les McCann, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Cannonball Adderley, Betty Carter, Ahmad Jamal, Abbey Lincoln and others. He was born in 1912 in New Orleans and grew up in Chicago. He moved to New York as a member of Stuff Smith’s band, and went on to work with Billy Holiday, Billy Taylor, Erroll Garner, and most famously as a member of George Shearing’s quintet in the late ’40s, when he began taking on business responsibilities for the blind pianist. A successful self-taught businessman, he formed his own management company, John Levy Enterprises, in 1951.
The music world was stunned to learn of the death of double bass soloist and composer Stefano Scodanibbio on January 8th from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He was only 55 years old. “Stefano Scodanibbio has been responsible for more important additions to the double bass repertoire in recent years than any European bassist,” wrote Michael Cameron in his review of Stefano’s CD release Voyage That Never Ends, a 45-minute soundscape that Stefano performed in its entirety when he made his ISB convention debut in 1999 at the University of Iowa. What is now become his final ISB convention performance was in 2009 at Penn State University, another profoundly moving experience for those lucky enough to be there.
Dozens of works were written for him, and he created new techniques, extending the colors and range of the double bass. In 1987 in Rome, he performed a four-hour non-stop marathon, playing 28 pieces by 25 composers. As a composer, his catalogue includes more than 50 works, principally for strings, including Sei Studi for solo contrabass, Three String Quartets, Concertale for contrabass, strings and percussion and Six Duos.
In June 2004 Stefano premiered Sequenza XIVb by Luciano Berio in his own version for contrabass, from the original for cello. In 1983 he founded the “Rassegna di Nuova Musica,” a new music festival held annually in Macerata, Italy.
By a lovely coincidence, on Friday, May 25th, 8 PM at The Stone in New York City, Cleveland Symphony bassist Scott Dixon, along with Matteo Cesari (bass flute) and the Del Sol String Quartet, will perform music of Stefano Scodanibbio. Read more about his important and far too-short career. We’re so sorry that this voyage had to end, and the ISB extends its deepest sympathies to Stefano Scodanibbio’s family, friends, colleagues and fans everywhere. Click here to make a donation to the ISB in Stefano’s memory.