Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Comes in 3's

We have all heard the expression: "Bad things come in threes." It sadly appears this worn out adage is hauntingly accurate again. On January 1st Jazz Great Charles Fambrough died at the age of 60. I just posted on the passing of James Moody and Sid Simmons. Now this tremendous bassist and son of Philadelphia has passed.
Remember the Righteous Brothers tune "Rock N Roll Heaven" which refers to " a helluva band?" Well, if there is a Jazz Heaven they have a top shelf new trio with the addition of Mr. Fambrough.
I hate the fact that this Blog is looking like a jazz specific Obituary column lately, but these guys were my friends as well as amazing talents.
Back when I owned Chris' Jazz Cafe, I met and became friends with Charles Fambrough, his lovely wife Delores and his kids. Charles was a great Jazz bassist. He played with Art Blakey,McCoy Tyner, the Marsalis boys and had his own bands and produced albums as a leader. Charles was a gentleman who showed up at gigs on time, played to his audience and often brought the band and the audience to a appreciative silence with his Bass solos. I always loved the Jazz Bass as an out front instrument in the vein of Stanley Clark. Charles did this as well as anyone.
Many say that the praise of peers is a good measure of one's professional success. This is what jazz Legend Pat Martino said of Charles:

"There are certain musicians that cannot be referred to as musicians because they transcend the craft," Martino said Monday. "Charles was an artist at the highest level. His resume as a sideman was exceptional. When you heard Charles play, no matter where it was, he filled the house. It was a wave that filled the room."

This is damn high praise coming from Pat.

Whenever Charles played at my joint I would sit with his wife Delores and share a cocktail and stories. After the gig, Charles would join us, drink fruit juice, and simply charm you off the stool.He knew I loved Stanley Clark and Grover Washington Jr. and would offer anecdotes and stories about their music and various recording sessions and tours.
I will miss Charles and the Bass riffs he played, the "wave that filled the room" as Pat says; I will miss the big booming laugh Charles had, and the booming Bass notes he would rip that penetrated right thru your sternum.

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