Friday, October 16, 2009

R.I.P.: Wilby Fletcher

(Wilby during a Japanese tour with McCoy Tyner in 1975)

(born Oct. 18, 1954 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA;
died Oct. 15, 2009 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA)

Wilbert B. Fletcher, Jr., better known as Wilby Fletcher, worked with such stars as Grover Washington Jr., McCoy Tyner, Tania Maria, Gary Bartz, Roberta Flack, Harry Belafonte, Herbie Mann, Woody Shaw, Ron Carter, Lonnie Liston Smith, John Blake, Barbara Montgomery, Michel Petruciani, Roy Ayers and The Stylistics, amongst others. He died of a heart attack at age 54.
I became familiar with Wilby's artistry through McCoy Tyner's "Atlantis" album (in a quintet completed by Azar Lawrence, Joony Booth and Brazilian percussionist Guilherme Franco), a fantastic 2-LP set (check out the title track and "Love Samba" to see what I'm talking about) produced by Orrin Keepnews for the Milestone label and recorded live @ Todd Barkan's Keystone Korner in San Francisco.
I also love his work on some Ron Carter's sessions as the "Parfait" album (available on CD in the "Songs for You" 2-in-1 compilation) and the "Django" LaserDisc (unfortunately, not yet reissued on DVD), both with a quartet featuring Ron on piccolo bass, Ted Lo on piano and Leon Maleson on acoustic bass.
In recent years, he was working with bassist Charles Fambrough's band. One of his final session was "Blessings," with Anthony Branker's Ascent group, released in 2009 by the Origin label.

Father of Jumbe, Jeffrey, Jermaine and Cheo Fletcher, Quinn Jackson, and Spencer Hill. Son of Betty Fletcher and the late Wilbert Fletcher. Brother of Anthony and Jamil Fletcher and Sharon Turner, Wilby is also survived by 2 grandchildren, Laila and Camille Jackson; 1 niece, 3 aunts, 2 uncles and a host of other family and friends. A memorial service will be at 10 am on Thursday, October 22, at the Congo Funeral Home, 2317 N. Market St. There will be no viewing.

1 comment:

Artoni said...

We Remember Wilby Fletcher, Jr.
Join us to pay tribute to Wilmington musical legend, Wilbert "Wilby" Fletcher, Jr. The program, coordinated by the Fletcher family in partnership with CCAC, celebrates the life of this extraordinary drummer and features music, dance, photography and spoken word performances. Musicians who have collaborated with Fletcher will also perform, including violinist John Blake, Jr., pianist Barry Sames, the Alfie Moss/Dexter Koonce Project, Gerald Chavis, Fostina Dixon-Kilgoe, Jeff Knoettner, the Temple of Ma'at Drummers and others.

Wilmington's native son, Wilby Fletcher, Jr. (1954-2009) attended George Gray Elementary School and P.S. duPont High School. His career spanned 40 years, pairing him in performance with such legends as Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, McCoy Tyner, Roy Ayers, and Grover Washington, Jr. Most known forhis jazz technique, Fletcher was recognized as one of the world's most versatile drummers. Toward the end of his career, he returned to Wilmington, where he taught drum theory lessons to youth and played during services at Shiloh Baptist Church.

Wilby Fletcher, Jr. Musical Tribute
Saturday, February 28, 2010, 3:00 p.m.
Clifford Brown Performance Center, Christina Cultural Arts Center, 705 N. Market Street, Wilmington
For more information and tickets, call CCAC at 302.652.0101.