If you’ve been a jazz fan for any length of time, you know farewells are an essential part of the deal. But this was a harder year than most, as the ravages of a pandemic compounded and quickened the scope of our losses, especially during a heartbreaking stretch last spring.
All told, more than 40 notable figures from the realm of jazz and improvised music died in 2020. What they took with them was an incalculable reserve of wisdom and experience. What they left behind is a monumental body of work, spanning all conceivable corners of sound and style. The state of the art would be different today without their examples.
In this special episode of Jazz Night in America, we map a segment of that terrain — hailing 10 musicians whose lives and contributions altered the shape of jazz, in one fashion or another. Going by seniority, they are percussionist Cándido Camero; saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Lee Konitz; singers Annie Ross and Freddy Cole; bassists Gary Peacock and Henry Grimes; pianist McCoy Tyner; drummer Tony Allen; and trumpeter Wallace Roney.