In Memoriam: DownBeat Bids Farewell to Four Great Artists

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Victor Bailey (1960–2016)

(Photo: victorbailey.com)

It is with heavy hearts that DownBeat pays tribute to four superb artists who have recently left us.

Victor Bailey, a bassist who performed on numerous recording sessions and who was formerly a member of Weather Report, died on Nov. 11 at age 56.

Bailey suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.

Bailey appeared on albums by Randy Brecker, Mary J. Blige, Regina Carter, Billy Cobham, Kevin Eubanks, Lady Gaga, Carmen Lundy, Santana, Steps Ahead, Grover Washington Jr., Joe Zawinul and many others.

Bailey’s albums as a leader included Low Blow (1999), That’s Right (2001) and the 2005 disc Electric, which he recorded with guitarist Larry Coryell and drummer Lenny White.

Guitarist Bobby Broom sent DownBeat a note that read, in part, “[Victor] was a dear, old friend of mine and as I’m sure you know, one of the most prolific electric bassists to emerge in the 1980s.”

Bailey enjoyed a long stint as an associate professor of bass at Berklee College of Music, which he attended. (When Bailey was still a Berklee student, he toured with trumpet legend Hugh Masekela.)

In an interview for the Berklee website, Bailey described his philosophy as an educator:

“My objective is to make sure my students know the basics of music and of our instrument. My philosophy is something my dad always said: ‘Know your stuff.’ He would give me pages of music to read and stand there while I read them. I hated it at the time, but it was good preparation. He was giving me what I’m trying to give my students now: the tools necessary to become a working musician.

“I want to turn out students who—when they leave school—are ready for any situation that comes to them. If they need a walking bass line, they can walk. If there are chord changes written on the page, they can read them. I grew up watching my dad do what he had to do to feed his family every single day, some days doing the music he loved and some days playing something he didn’t like. So I want my students to leave school prepared to play bass for a living.”

Bob Cranshaw, the rhythmically agile bassist best known for his role as an indispensable sideman to saxophonist Sonny Rollins, died of cancer on Nov. 2 at his home in Manhattan. He was 83.

Throughout his prolific career, Cranshaw’s bass could be heard in Broadway pit orchestras, in TV jingles and on numerous albums now considered classics, including trumpeter Lee Morgan’s 1964 album The Sidewinder, the title track of which featured one of the most famous bass lines in jazz.

Cranshaw played on albums by Rollins, Eric Alexander, Mose Allison, Kenny Barron, Donald Byrd, George Coleman, Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Jackie McLean, Duke Pearson, Horace Silver, Rod Stewart, Clark Terry and many others.

Cranshaw was also a member of the first Saturday Night Live Band and held positions in the ensembles of TV shows hosted by Dick Cavett and Merv Griffin.

Al Caiola, a guitarist who worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, died on Nov. 9 at age 96. Caiola served in the U.S. Marines during World War II and then became a sought-after studio musician in New York.

Caiola played on hundreds of recordings, including records by Tony Bennett, Woody Herman, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington. Caiola also recorded many themes to TV shows and films.

Leonard Cohen, a singer-songwriter known for compositions such as “Suzanne,” “Bird On The Wire,” “Sisters Of Mercy” “Everybody Knows” and “Hallelujah,” died on Nov. 7 at age 82. Cohen was one of the most revered and literary tunesmiths in pop-music history. He was also a poet, novelist and painter.

Cohen was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

His final album, You Want It Darker (Columbia), was released on Oct. 21. (A review of the album will be published in the January issue of DownBeat.)

The Recording Academy presented Cohen with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. During his acceptance speech at the acadamy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception, he recited the lyrics to one of his most famous compositions, “Tower Of Song.” To see a video of Cohen’s speech, click he



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