Tuesday, March 11, 2008

R.I.P. Dennis Irwin

I had read recently that the amazing bassist Dennis Irwin was sick with cancer, and I knew that the jazz community had been rallying around him of late. But now comes word that he passed away yesterday, on the same day that a benefit concert was held in his honor at Jazz at Lincoln Center by his longtime friends and cohorts, Joe Lovano and John Scofield. (Upon news of his passing, the concert became a tribute instead, and plenty of jazz giants--including Tony Bennett, Wynton Marsalis, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette--joined with Lovano and Scofield.)

I became aware of Irwin through his involvement with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (which he joined when it was under Mel Lewis' leadership), and he always struck me as a solid accompanist and fine soloist. I didn't learn until recently that he also attended school at UNT for a while (and majoring in clarinet at that!); two of his fellow students who turned him onto jazz were bassist Marc Johnson and drummer John Riley.

From everything that I've read tonight, Irwin was not only a fine musician, but a really good guy. The jazz world will truly miss him.

Be sure and check out a recent YouTube video tribute here.

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