Stan Tracey, the pianist sometimes called the godfather of British jazz, died on December 6. He was 86. Tracey helped to draw international attention to jazz in the United Kingdom and influenced the development of scores of younger players. Through most of the 1960s he was the house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s club in London and frequently accompanied visiting American musicians. Of that period, he told The Guardian’s John Fordam,
…with people like Rahsaan Roland Kirk or Sonny Rollins and Charlie Mariano, you’d make a little statement that embellished or embroidered something they’d done, and you’d feel them taking it up and considering it, and developing it … I couldn’t wait to get to work and pick up from where I was the night before.”
Tracey’s primary influences were Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, as he made clear at the Bull’s Head pub in this 2006 solo on Monk’s “I Mean You.”
George Buck, whose record labels, radio stations and French Quarter club were devoted to the preservation and proliferation of New Orleans jazz, died last week at 84. Buck maneuvered through New Orleans, his social life and his business world as if he could see. Not infrequently, people he dealt with were astonished to learn that he was blind. His Palm Court Cafe was second only to Preservation Hall as a destination for local listeners as well as tourists in search of traditional jazz. Buck’s GHB, Jazzology and American Music labels recorded Bunk Johnson, Baby Dodds, Danny Barker and dozens of other New Orleans jazz mainstays. For details, see this article by Dominic Massa on the WWL-TV website.