Saturday, February 14, 2009

R.I.P.: Gerry Niewood

Gerry Niewood
(born on April 6, 1943, in Rochester, NY)
(died February 12, 2009, in Buffalo, NY)

I first became aware of Gerry Niewood's talents through his many sideman apperances on CTI/Kudu albums by people like Lalo Schifrin, Patti Austin and Grover Washington, Jr. Later on, I found his name also on albums by Chuck Mangione, Esther Satterfield, Gil Evans, Mark Murphy, Jim Hall, Bob James, David Matthews, Gerry Mulligan, Nick Brignola, Wally Dunbar, Mike Longo, Peggy Lee, Liza Minnelli, Cleo Laine, Sinead O'Connor, Nnenna Freelon, Ann Hampton Callaway and even Simon & Garfunkel. I treasure his solo dates for A&M and DMP.
Two Mangione musicians die in plane crash

Two people on board that flight were members of Chuck Mangione's band heading to Buffalo for a scheduled concert tonight.

Coleman Mellett was Mangione's guitarist. Gerry Niewood, who grew up in Rochester, played saxophone in the band.

News 10NBC has spoken with close friends of Niewood including Gap Mangione, the brother of Chuck Mangione and Jeff Tyzik, the POPS conductor for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Both of them are just shocked and in disbelief.

Tyzik has known Niewood for about 40 years since their days at the Eastman School of Music. He says Niewood was an amazing saxophonist known by all musicians, especially for his work with Chuck Mangione and Paul Simon.

Niewood was born and raised in Rochester and attended Franklin High School, the University of Buffalo and got his degree in 1970 from the Eastman School. He joined Chuck Mangione's band after that and performed with them for nearly 14 years.

Gap Mangione told News 10NBC he and his brother Chuck were in Buffalo last night. Gap had driven from Rochester and Chuck had flown in from Florida. They had just sent the limo to the airport to pick up Mellett and Niewood when they received the news.

Like his brother Chuck, Gap Mangione has known Gerry Niewood his entire life. He says they are too distraught to talk at this point but Chuck Mangione did issue a statement which said, “I’m in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy of the crash of flight 3407, which took the lives of my dear friends and band members. I am grieving and praying with their families and friends.”

Jeff Tyzik of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra said, “He was the consummate musician, the consummate professional musicians and we all looked up to Gerry. Phenomenal player so it's quite a great loss to the music world and to musicians who really were in touch with Gerry and his spirit. It's a great loss to them as well.”

The guitarist who was also on that plane, Coleman Mellett, lived in Maryland and he was married to jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie's daughter.

Niewood had since moved from Rochester to New Jersey. In addition to his performances with Chuck Mangione, he was also playing for the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra.

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