In Memoriam: movingtheriver.com Salutes The Fallen Of 2020/2021

We salute the fallen musicians, producers, promoters, actors, writers and presenters of 2020 and 2021.

Janice Long (pictured left – the first woman to have a daytime show on Radio 1, the first female presenter of ‘Top Of The Pops’ and a great supporter of upcoming artists)

Nick Kamen

Charlie Watts

Henry Woolf (teacher, poet, actor and member of Harold Pinter’s ‘Hackney Gang’)

Terence ‘Astro’ Wilson (co-founder of UB40)

Mick Rock

Baron Browne (bassist with Billy Cobham, Steve Smith’s Vital Information, Jean-Luc Ponty)

Joan Didion

Dean Stockwell

Jimmy Heath

Eddie Van Halen

Lyle Mays

Betsy Byars

Jon Christensen (drummer for Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek etc.)

McCoy Tyner

Ian St. John & Jimmy Greaves (Saint & Greavsie)

Wallace Roney (jazz trumpeter)

Onaje Allan Gumbs (keyboardist with Will Downing, Phyllis Hyman, Billy Cobham etc.)

Hal Willner

Lee Konitz

Little Richard

Jimmy Cobb (drummer on Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue)

Gary Peacock (bassist with Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis etc.)

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry

Deon Estus (bass player with Wham!, George Michael and Marvin Gaye in Ostend, solo artist and producer)

Nanci Griffith

Dusty Hill (ZZ Top bassist)

George Wein (pianist, impresario and founder of the Newport Jazz Festival)

Phil Schaap (jazz historian and key contributor to Ken Burns’ ‘Jazz’ documentaries)

Pee Wee Ellis

Stephen Sondheim

Matthew Seligman (Thomas Dolby/Thompson Twins/Soft Boys bassist)

Genesis P-Orridge (co-founder of Throbbing Gristle)

Cristina (post-punk singer of ‘Drive My Car’ fame)

Michael Apted (director of ‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’, ‘Ptang Yang Kipperbang’, ‘Gorillas In The Mist’, ‘Bring On The Night’, ‘The World Is Not Enough’, ‘Gorky Park’ and co-creator/director of the ‘Seven Up’ TV series)

Ed ‘Duke Bootee’ Fletcher (teacher, hip-hip pioneer and co-writer of Grandmaster Flash/Furious Five’s ‘The Message’)

Phil Chen (bassist on Jeff Beck’s Wired and Blow By Blow)

Phil Spector

Cicely Tyson (Academy Award/Emmy-winning actress and wife of Miles Davis)

Larry McMurtry

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Beat poet)

Charles Grodin

Bill Withers

Al Schmitt (recording engineer for Steely Dan, Toto, Diana Krall etc.)

George Segal

Jackie Mason

Robbie Shakespeare (Sly & Robbie bassist)

Una Stubbs

Ed Asner

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Yaphet Kotto

Chick Corea

Malcolm Cecil (jazz bassist and co-producer/synth programmer on Stevie Wonder’s Innversions, Talking Book and Music Of My Mind)

Greg Tate (jazz and soul writer)

Barry Harris (bebop pianist)

Pat Martino

Rick Laird (Mahavishnu Orchestra bassist)

Milford Graves

Jon Hassell

Alan Hawkshaw (composer of many great TV and film themes including ‘Channel 4 News’, ‘Countdown’, John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ and this cracker which soundtracked much of my 1980s:)

I wrote this cos I’d like to shake your hand/In a way you guys are the best friends I ever had
LOU REED, 1984

Story Of A Song: McCoy Tyner/Phyllis Hyman’s I’ll Be Around

What makes a ‘good’ singer?

In a recent podcast, Donald Fagen spoke about the importance of vocal tone, saying that he’d rather listen to Ray Charles singing a mediocre song completely ‘straight’ than a jazz singer pointlessly embellishing a songbook standard.

It got me thinking about Phyllis Hyman’s crackerjack performance on ‘I’ll Be Around’ (not to be confused with the Alec Wilder standard sung by many including Frank Sinatra and Chaka Khan), from McCoy Tyner’s 1982 CBS album Looking Out.

The song, which has haunted me since I first heard it in the late 1980s, was mainly written by Stanley Clarke and recycled from his lacklustre (despite featuring some lovely Stan Getz saxophone) 1979 track ‘The Streets Of Philadelphia’.

‘I’ll Be Around’ comes from an otherwise fairly mediocre McCoy album, mainly notable for featuring Carlos Santana, Clarke and Gary Bartz on several tracks.

But Tyner’s fabled work with John Coltrane must have seemed a distant memory by 1982. In jazz terms, CBS was obsessed with Wynton Marsalis and neo-classicism, though still had time for Herbie Hancock’s hip-hop explorations and Miles’s comeback.

Phyllis and McCoy in the studio

Maybe McCoy in turn thought he’d hit paydirt by grabbing Santana, Bartz and Clarke (huge Coltrane fans, all), but Looking Out is now barely a footnote to his illustrious career – it was his second and last album for Columbia.

‘I’ll Be Around’ doesn’t feature Santana or Bartz, and was the sole LA-recorded track on the album (the other tracks being recorded at the Power Station in NYC), adding the excellent pairing of Charles ‘Icarus’ Johnson on guitar and Ndugu Chancler on drums.

Chancler and Tyner work together almost telepathically, the former driving the song forward, though always with one ear on the groove, the latter sprinkling on his majestic chord voicings.

Hyman’s vocals are huge, luscious, but she also adds some subtle flavours over Tyner’s piano solo, consciously removing vibrato and sometimes singing ever-so-slightly sharp for emotional effect.

Of course it’s virtually impossible now to assess this heartfelt performance without considering her tragic suicide in 1995. But, happily, ‘I’ll Be Around’ gives a different slant on a fine career and shows Hyman’s mastery of Black Music, from disco to jazz.