Dozens of notable jazz musicians died this year, many from COVID-19. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead remembers some of the legends lost, including Bucky Pizzarelli, Ellis Marsalis and Jimmy Heath.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Dozens of notable jazz musicians died in 2020, many from COVID-19. We lost far too many jazz musicians this year to even mention all of them. The drummers alone we lost include Jon Christensen, Ray Mantilla, Jimmy Cobb, Charli Persip, Viola Smith and Candido Camero. Earlier in the year, FRESH AIR remembered pianist McCoy Tyner and saxophonist Lee Konitz. Now jazz critic Kevin Whitehead remembers seven other musicians who died this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE KEN PEPLOWSKI QUINTET’S “MR. GENTLE AND MR. COOL (FEAT. HANK JONES AND BUCKY PIZZARELLI)”)

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli was one of those musicians you heard more than you knew, playing on TV shows and a zillion record dates, where his unobtrusive, often bluesy licks and sturdy rhythm chords quietly made a big difference. His guitar and bass playing kids carry on the tradition.

Another jazz patriarch died on the same day, April 1, Ellis Marsalis. The swinging aesthetic he imparted to his famous sons and
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