Many years and a couple of employers ago, I had a passing acquaintance with Bingham Ray. He, along with such luminaries as John Pierson,with whom I did work at Films, Inc. in the 1980's, was a major figure in the growth and development of indie films from the 1980's. His work was characterized by a passion for fine work, something all too rare these days.
There's precious little I can add to what has already been said, written and sung regarding Etta James, except to direct you to her work in the jazz genre singing standards. The other day I was walking home from the subway, when her version of I'll Be Seeing You popped up on the Ipod. Her voice was a perfect fit for the wistfulness and anguish over a parting that one senses will be permanent. She also recorded one of the best covers of Blue Gardenia, one of the great ballads dealing with the grief of abject rejection.
Cesária Évora, languished in obscurity for far too long and that may be the biggest tragedy of her death. Her music was the music of displacement; displacement mandated by poverty and forced separation from those one loves. To give one an even greater sense of this, consider the films of Pedro Costa: Ossos, No Quarto da Vanda and Juventude em Marcha, collectively known through the Criterion Collection edition set, Letters From Fontainhas. Costa drew his inspiration for the films from the Cape Verdeans who he encountered in Cape Verde, who, upon finding out he lived in Lisbon, pressed letters in his hands and implored him to deliver them to family members in the Fontainhas neighborhood of Lisbon.
At least Ms. Évora will be remembered by Cape Verde: a three meter statue of her will be installed next month at the airport in São Vicente.
Clare Fischer was one of the great and most under appreciated composers/arrangers in jazz. Such compositions as Morning and Pensativa stick in my head every time I hear them. Fischer and Cal Tjader were among the earliest non-Latin proponents of Latin Jazz.
Bob Brookmeyer labored behind the scenes for so long, well known among the cognoscenti, but deserving of so much more attention. His 1964 recording, Bob Brookmeyer and Friends hasa stunning lineup of sidemen: Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Gary Burton, Stan Getz and Brookmeyer on valve trombone. It's one of my favorites - and the rhythm section makes it memorable - but it was one of a few recordings of his on a major label. His legacy is solid and he will be missed.