Report in Memphis Online that Hank Crawford has sadly passed away :
Memphian Played with R&B Greats
Saxophonist's roots in Manassas High
The evocative, blues-influenced playing of Memphis jazz great Hank
Crawford colored the saxophonist's own albums and the work of many
others, most notably Ray Charles.
Born and raised in Memphis, Bennie Ross "Hank" Crawford Jr. was a
childhood prodigy who first flashed his musical gifts in church.
As a student at Manassas High School, he was a member of the school's
band, The Rhythm Bombers. Manassas proved a hothouse atmosphere: Mr.
Crawford's classmates included future jazz greats George Coleman,
Harold Mabern and Charles Lloyd.
Mr. Crawford died Thursday at his home. He was 74.
Delores Crawford said her brother had been in declining health for the
past year, dealing with the long-term effects of a stroke he suffered
Although Mr. Crawford made a return to the stage in 2003, he had not
performed publicly in several years.
In the late '40s and early '50s, Mr. Crawford was part of the thriving
Mid-South dance band scene, serving as a member of outfits led by Ben
Branch, Tuff Green, Al Jackson Sr. and Ike Turner, and backing up then-
fledgling artists like B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.
After high school, Mr. Crawford moved to Nashville, where he studied
music at Tennessee State University and cut R&B records on the side.
It was in Nashville that Mr. Crawford first crossed paths with Ray
Charles. He joined Charles' band in 1959 and eventually became its
musical director before leaving to form his own sextet in 1963.
Mr. Crawford's recording career was distinguished and adventurous. He
cut a series of critically acclaimed albums for Atlantic throughout
the '60s, and later explored fusion and funk on the Kudu label in the
'70s, before taking a back-to-roots jazz direction in the '80s.
Over the years, Mr. Crawford also remained an in-demand sideman,
working with a range of artists including Etta James, Lou Rawls, Jimmy
McGriff and Dr. John.
Although he spent much of his adult life based in New York City and
touring Europe, Mr. Crawford returned to Memphis in 2000 after his
stroke to recuperate with his family. He spent his remaining years
splitting time between the Big Apple and his hometown.
Mr. Crawford's death comes just over a week after the passing of his
longtime collaborator David "Fathead" Newman. The two horn players
were, for many years, the backbone of Charles' band.
Mr. Crawford also leaves a son, Michael Crawford; a daughter, Sherri
Crawford; a granddaughter, Tiffany Crawford, and six siblings. Funeral
arrangements are pending.
By Bob Mehr
David "Fathead" Newman Has Died at 75
By Robert Wilonsky in Music News
Wednesday, Jan. 21 2009 @ 5:09PM
Josh Alan Friedman, who penned an amazing piece about the Texas Tenor
for the paper version of Unfair Park long ago, brings sad news today:
Corsicana-born, Dallas-raised sax great David "Fathead" Newman died
yesterday. There's only been one obituary, but a call to David's wife
and manager Karen offers further confirmation. Says a family friend
named Patty, he died last night following a long bout with pancreatic
cancer. Funeral services are being arranged, says Patty, and "there
will be a jazz service at a later date in New York."
Newman, who so beautifully straddled the line between jazz and R&B
throughout his estimable career, had one of the most illustrious
careers in modern music, stretching all the way from Lincoln High
School to bandleader Buster Smith to Ray Charles to Atlantic Records
to Aretha Franklin to ZuZu Bolin to Robert Altman's film Kansas City,
in which he had a small role as a sax player, but of course. As Josh
wrote in 1996, "Aside from his own 28 [albums], Newman estimates he
has played on some 400 pop, jazz, and blues albums as a star sideman."
He acquired his nickname while at Lincoln: As Sarah Hepola recounted
in the Observer in 2004, legendary band director J.K. Miller "called
him a 'fathead' after he bungled a note in class."
In his autobiography Brother Ray, co-written with native Dallasite
David Ritz, Charles wrote of his fondness for Newman, who joined his
band in 1954. "He was one of the best musicians I'd ever heard,"
Charles wrote, one who played with such "lyricism" and "sweetness."
Added Charles, "He could make his sax sings the song like no one
else." Fathead was such an enormous part of Charles's life that in the
2004 film Ray, Bokeem Woodbine portrayed the saxophone-playing
sideman. And it was Charles who lent his name to Newman's 1958 solo
debut: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David Newman.
In '04, Newman told the Observer that playing with Charles "was like a
course in music appreciation... Ray loved jazz, blues, rock, rhythm
and blues, country and western, and classical. I was stuck in the
bebop era, and I didn't think there was anything other than bebop, but
he taught me differently."
In 2005, Newman released the album I Remember Brother Ray. It would be
among his last. His final album was 2008's Diamondhead, which also
featured South Dallas-born pianist Cedar Walton.
I know it has been silent here for some time now, all my apologies! I appreciate the fact you keep coming back at this blog but right now my all day life is abit to overwhelming (the birth of our first son, and a lot of work at the office).
Anyway i try to post someting newt week on Phil Woods and Bobby Hutcherson!
Thanks for yoru patience.
To close up the year 2008 we have to the disappearance of Freddie Hubbard. Well hopefully 2009 will be a better year for musicians, writers, actors etc. You can read here the NYT obit by Peter Keepnews.
What did i write yesterday? it just doesn't stop these days... read here the long obituary from the NYT.
I got this email in my inbox this morning. It seems to me that 2008 is a hard year for all musicians, writers, actors haveing left us....
"I was just informed by a reliable source (John Handy) that the legendary flutist/saxophonist Prince Lasha passed away in Oakland, CA last night (Dec. 11). Many people will remember his own recordings (especially with Sonny Simmons) and his associations on records with Eric Dolphy, Elvin Jones and many others and in later years with Odean Pope. Lasha was born William Lawsha in Forth Worth, Texas on Sept. 10, 1929. Lasha (pronounced La-shay) went to school and was a boyhood friend of Ornette Coleman."