Icons Die Every Day

I was sad to hear about the passing of jazz artist David Sanborn on Sunday, May 12.  The extraordinary saxophonist was instrumental in growing my affinity for contemporary jazz music when I was a college student. I grew to love his music ever since. Any form of jazz music genre is fabulous because it is variable in its interpretation and can be free to meet listeners where they are in their lives.

At age 78, Sanborn, I believe, lived a full life as a contemporary jazz icon. He set the stage for several of his colleagues who would follow him from the height of his career in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was a significant musical icon among several that I embraced, especially one of various artists in the early decades of contemporary Jazz. Sanborn’s contemporaries at one time included Grover Washington Jr., Kenny G and George Howard. Today’s Artists, Gerald Albright, Vincent Ingala and Boney James owe it to David Sanborn for paving the path for the popular genre.

I recently came back from a jazz music weekend in Wisconsin. Jazz on the Vine at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is one of my favorite concerts. The event is nestled at The Osthoff Resort and offers a three-day extravaganza of jazz legends and new artists.  The attractive aspects of the concert are that there are no more than 500 people attending and the resort’s indoor banquet space offers an intimate atmosphere. I have experienced that after each artist’s performance, the audience can take personal photos with them.

Headlining this year’s concert was Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Vincent Ingala – all saxophonists who are at the height of their careers. Ingala at age 31, is an emerging star in the industry, but he has been known for over 10 years.

Gerald Albright

I call Albright the connoisseur of jazz saxophonists because he is upbeat in his songs and can also play ballads. Mindi Abair is a ferocious saxophonist with a rock and roll style. She can really play that saxophone! This time she was a vocalist during a significant number of her songs. Compared to her performance that I witnessed years ago at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, her act at Jazz on the Vine indicates that she has changed her style a bit.

Mindi Abair

This was the first time I saw Vincent Ingala live. I was impressed by his “little Boney” style because he also has charisma. What was most impressive was his band’s talent and Ingala’s ability to play different instruments such as the guitar and drums.

Vincent Ingala

Also, performing at the Jazz on the Vine concert was legends Jeff Lorber and Marion Meadows. Like Sanborn, Lorber was at his height as a jazz artist at the same time. Lorber, also in his 1970’s, is a methodic and legendary performer on the keyboards.  Along with his bassist, his band had a unique and conservative approach that identified with an older contemporary jazz sound.  The band still gave an excellent performance.

Marion Meadows came on stage in sunglasses, so he was not as personally interactive as the other performers. His mellow and ballad-oriented songs are appealing. He made sure we knew about his talent as a fine art professional as well. He made an effort to sell his art during and after his performance.

Marion Meadows

Included in the concert series that weekend was vocalist Avery Sunshine, saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, guitarist Steve Oliver, and flutist Althea Rene.

Steve Oliver

Jeff Kashiwa

Avery Sunshine was the surprise of the weekend. She provided great interaction with the audience through her expressionist delivery. We all waited after the performance to meet her and take a photo, but she declined as she had to catch a plane.

In all, the Jazz on the Vine concert this year was worth traveling to see. The hope of seeing David Sandborn again has ended.  It is not the first time I missed seeing other jazz icons who died recently and were on my bucket list. They include Joe Sample, Ramsey Lewis, and guitarists Chuck Loeb and Nick Colionne. May they all Rest In Peace.  At least we have their recorded songs to remember them by.