The sad notes keep coming. Trumpeter Lew Soloff died early today. His daughter, Laura Solomon, reported on her Facebook page that Soloff was with her and her family on their way home from a New York restaurant when he collapsed with a massive heart attack . He was 71. Born in New York City, a trumpeter from age 12, Soloff developed into a stalwart in jazz who was also in demand in New York’s studios. He reached his greatest general renown as a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears from 1968 to 1973. In the jazz community, he was respected for his strength and reliability in brass sections and for the imagination, daringand idiosyncracyof his solos.
Soloff made his first professional breakthrough with the Machito orchestra and went on to play with Maynard Ferguson, Gil Evans, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, George Russell, Urbie Green and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, among many other prominent bands. Millions were familiar with his solo on the Blood, Sweat and Tears hit “Spinning Wheel.” Here’s the version from Woodstock in 1969. The video quality is substandard, but the sound is fairly good, and the solo is typical Soloff of the period, that is, full of the excitement and adventurous turns that endeared him to listeners and his colleagues.
Here’s Soloff in an extended solo with the Mingus Big Band in 1992. His musicianship is clear, and so is the idiosyncracy.
For an obituary, see this JazzTimes article. Lew’s daughter is quoted as saying that plans for a memorial service will be developed.