R.I.P. Kenny Wheeler and Joe Sample

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September 19, 2014



Kenny Wheeler, Trumpeter and Flugelhornist, Is Dead at 84

By Jeff Tamarkin

Kenny Wheeler, the trumpet and flugelhorn great who was born in Canada but spent most of his life in Britain, where he became a major jazz star, died Sept. 18 at age 84. The place and cause of death were not announced but Wheeler had been in ill health for some time; he’d been living in a London nursing home and had recently been hospitalized. Wheeler’s versatile approach ultimately allowed him to work within various milieus, including big band, post-bop, fusion and free jazz. As a leader he recorded albums for ECM, CAM Jazz and other labels and he served as a sideman or collaborator with a range of diverse artists including Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell and Dave Holland. As an educator, Wheeler was a founding patron of the Junior Jazz program at Britain’s Royal Academy of Music and was the subject of a yearlong exhibition at the Academy Museum.

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Kenny Wheeler
Photo by W. Patrick Hinely


Joe Sample, Keyboardist and Composer, Dies at 75

By Jeff Tamarkin

Joe Sample, the keyboardist and composer who co-founded the Crusaders—originally the Jazz Crusaders—and flourished as a solo artist in the wake of that band’s breakup, died Sept. 12 in his hometown of Houston, Tex. Sample was 75 and was known to have suffered two heart attacks in recent decades. Sample’s artistry transcended genre. With the Crusaders he moved seamlessly between hard bop and, later, a more R&B-rooted funk that ultimately prompted the group to drop the word jazz from its name. On his own, primarily on acoustic piano, Sample’s lyrical phrasing and crystalline sound could be found on recordings made as a leader and in collaborative situations, including three duo albums with singer Randy Crawford in the 2000s. He was also a prolific sideman, working not only with jazz musicians but top names in the pop, rock and R&B worlds.

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Joe Sample
Photo by Perry Hagopian


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