This Saturday Sir John Dankworth passed away at the age of 82. Since hearing the news of his death I have taken time to relive my memories of his concert in San Francisco this past October. In my previous post I gushed over Cleo Laine's amazing performance that night so I feel I should add some more words about Sir Dankworth.
He was extremely charming, sharing jokes with us that I'm sure he had honed over his decades of performance. Had he been less of a charmer they might have seem tired. Instead they seemed tried and true.
His body was frail but he moved gracefully from clarinet to saxophone, diving in to rhythms and melodies. His improvisations seemed effortless, like the changes had truly become an extension of his fingers.
I was most struck by his relationship with Cleo. The obvious love and admiration he had for his wife is what I wish every person could feel for and from their partner.
Reading Sir John Dankworth's obituary today I discovered some great words of wisdom I just had to share.
once opined that symphonies were the great novels of western music and
jazz was the journalism; the one embracing the spirit of an era, the
other catching its intense and characteristic moments on the wing.
"Jazz today," Dankworth's book concluded, "... can be spiritual, cerebral, motivating or moving. It can evoke tension, relaxation, laughter, tears. Surely jazz is truly the music of the era, combining stature, dignity and emotion with the highest musical ideals."
Like Sir Dankworth, I hope we all have the good fortune to pursue our passion until our final days. What an inspiration.