Sunday, March 8, 2015

R.I.P.: Lew Soloff

(born February 20, 1944 in New York, NY;

died March 7, 2015 in New York, NY)
          (Lew Soloff & Arnaldo DeSouteiro, New York, 1987)

Shocked and devastaded with the news about Lew Soloff's passing. He was having dinner with his daugher Laura and her family. As they were walking home, he had a heart attack on the sidewalk. 
He is one of my trumpet heroes (along with Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and Randy Brecker). Lew was a dear friend, with whom I had the honor to work in recordings and concerts; the first time was in 1987, in New York, during the sessions for Yana Purim's "Harvest Time" album with Herbie Hancock and two fellow members of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet: David Matthews and George Young.

It was a dream come true when Lew accepted the invitation to take part of the album. He had arrived that same day from Japan with MJQ but went to Deodato's Duplex Sound Studio and recorded in a couple of tunes, doing an absolutely superb performance specially on a very special arrangement (by another genius, Hugo Fattoruso) of Luiz Bonfa's "The Gentle Rain". In 7/4!!!! I was so dazzled and mesmerized by his solo that I couldn't speak. Then, Lew said to me: "You know I'm tired, with jetlag, so if you don't like what I played today, just call me tomorrow and I'll be back to re-record everything!" Of course it wasn't necessary, he had played brilliantly.
Some months later, he, his wife at that time (harpist Emily Mitchell) and "Little Laura" stayed for a week in my place in my native Rio when he went there to play with Gil Evans. I can't believe he's gone now, but he will be in my heart forever. I collect all albums recorded by Lew as a leader (most of them for Japanese labels) and as a sideman, including LaserDiscs and DVDs with both the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, as well as with Frank Sinatra (the fabulous LD "Portrait Of An Album," that documents the "LA Is My Lady" recording sessions produced by Quincy Jones, on which he was featured on "How Do You Keep The Music Playing?"), the supergroups Blood Sweat & Tears (many DVDs from the Musikladen programs for German TV) and Average White Band, The Gil Evans Orchestra (when Gil was still alive as well as on the final concert with Miles Davis at Montreux, with Quincy conducting the band), and also honoring Charles Mingus on "Epitaph."
 (Joe Beck, Mark Egan, Lew Soloff & Ronnie Cuber; pic by Arnaldo DeSouteiro)

Several times he was "elected" by me as "best trumpeter of the year" in the annual Jazz Station Awards. Every time I traveled to NY, I used to call him immediately to know where he was playing. So I was blessed with the chance to attend countless concerts and gigs he did with Gil Evans as well as, in later years, with three other dears friends -- Mark Egan, Ronnie  Cuber and the late Joe Beck -- and many others. My condolences to all his family. Rest in Peace, Lew.
His daugher Laura Solomon posted on Facebook:
Lew Soloff's funeral service and burial will take place tomorrow, Monday, March 9, 2015 at 1:00 PM in Kensico Cemetery (Sharon Gardens), Valhalla, NY. Rabbi Jeremias will oversee the service.
We are organizing a celebratory Memorial for him in the coming weeks. More details are forthcoming.
Tonight I lost my dad. We flew to New York to spend the week with him and my sister, enjoyed the day together, had dinner at our favorite grub spot. On the way home, he suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed into my arms on the sidewalk in front of my husband and children. I performed CPR with the help of a passerby and continued to assist after EMTs arrived. He died at the scene, was resuscitated, made it through an angioplasty but couldn't stabilize afterward and passed away just before 1:00 AM.
My dad was amazing. He could drive me fucking crazy, but that didn't make him any less essential to my life. He loved his grandkids. He loved my sister and me. He was one of the greatest trumpet players in the world and I'm so proud to be his daughter. I'm so happy to carry on a fraction of his musicality in the now rare moments that I pick up my violin.
Dad had more friends than anyone I know. He was always on the phone. Always. Even when it was totally inappropriate. He was so loved by so many. His life overflowed with people who cared for him. I am so thankful for you all.
I am devastated. I can't picture my life or my kids' lives without him in it. It doesn't seem real. It's definitely not fair. But I am so grateful to have spent my dad's last day on Earth together in New York City.
Please keep my family in your thoughts and respect our privacy during this awful time. We're hurting badly.
Lew Soloff, a true virtuoso musician, is likely best known in the USA for his work with Blood, Sweat & Tears and as a first-call session player. But, in Japan, the man is almost a pop star, due to countless tours promoting dozens of albums (and videos) he recorded as the main soloist of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet as well as with another ensemble led by arranger David Matthews, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra. Not to mention his own fantastic CDs as a leader -- "Hanalei Bay," "Yesterdays," "But Beautiful" (aka "Speak Low") and "My Romance" are my personal favorites. The projects with the Manhattan Jazz Quintet are no less superb, and the first incarnation of the group also included David Matthews, George Young, Eddie Gomez (later replaced by John Patitucci) and Steve Gadd (eventually replaced by Dave Weckl, Peter Erskine and Victor Lewis.)
Soloff also worked for over three decades with The Gil Evans Orchestra. He played with everyone who's someone; from George Benson to Barbra Streisand, from Tony Scott to Stanley Clarke, from Bob James to Marianne Faithful, from Frank Sinatra to Blood Sweat & Tears, from Quincy Jones to Ted Rosenthal, from Jim Hall to Toots Thielemans, from Buddy Rich to Joss Stone. Plus such pop/soul/rock stars as Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Michael Franks, Burt Bacharach, James Brown, Sting, the groups Average White Band and Steely Dan, latin legends Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente, Brazilian singers Yana Purim and Tania Maria, the Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Orchestra and countless others.
I had the honor to record with him for the first time back in 1987, in New York, during the sessions for Yana Purim's "Harvest Time" album with Herbie Hancock and two fellow members of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet: David Matthews and George Young. Lew made frequent guest appearances with jazz orchestras all over the world, such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. Most recently, he was in action with Icelandic singer Anna Mjöll.

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