Rest In Peace, Frankie Knuckles

 

73978526CG029_20_year_celeb

The Bronx-born Godfather of house music, Frankie Knuckles, has passed away. Upon moving to Chicago in the late 70s, the legendary DJ and producer helped change the face of dance music and culture with the advent of Chicago house music. Some words from Maurice:

We are all deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Frankie Knuckles. When I first came to New York from England in 1987, I knew dance music and culture. It wasn’t until I heard Frankie Knuckles DJ at The World that I discovered House Music and my life changed forever. Without Frankie Knuckles’ influence, there would be no Giant Step plain and simple. Dance music has lost its Godfather; he is gone but will never be forgotten.

Watch the 1989 video for “Tears” after the jump

Rest In Peace, Ronny Jordan

 

ronny

UK guitarist Ronny Jordan has passed away at the age of 51. The acid jazz pioneer helped lead the way in blending R&B, hip hop, and jazz, cementing his influence on music history. He received a Grammy nomination for his 2000 release, A Brighter Day.

After the jump, watch two clips of “The Jackal,” a popular song Ronny did in collaboration with Dana Bryant (a former Giant Step artist). The first clip is the music video for the track, while the second one shows the track featured front and center in a lip sync on the beloved TV series West Wing.

Watch “The Jackal” after the jump

Rest In Peace, Chico Hamilton

 

chico

Legendary jazz musician and leader of the Euphoria ensemble Chico Hamilton has passed away.

Coming up as a rising jazz drummer alongside other heavyweights such as Charles Mingus in high school, Chico played with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan and others, cementing himself as a force to be reckoned with early on.

In 1987, he helped found the New School University Jazz & Contemporary Music Program in NYC, a place dear to many of our hearts.

His ensembles helped develop talent like Gabor Szabo and Larry Coryell, amongst many others. Chico is also credited as an influence for many contemporary talents such as Carlos Santana, Joe Claussell, Jose James, Mark de Clive-Lowe and Thievery Corporation.

Honored as a “Living Jazz Legend” by the Kennedy Center and as an NEA Jazz Master, Chico Hamilton was seminal to the jazz community, culture, and history. Material from his October 2013 recordings with his Euphoria ensemble will be released as the The Inquiring Mind in early 2014.

We are grateful to have had Chico as part of our own history here at Giant Step as well – he will be sorely missed.

The ongoing event series, Celebrating the Life & Music of Foreststorn ‘Chico’ Hamilton will continue on December 15 at Drom in NYC. Come out and pay homage to one of the greats.

Rest In Peace, George Duke

 

8007008P03R0

Legendary keyboardist George Duke has passed at the age of 67. Left behind are over 30 solo albums and credit for creating bridges between Brazilian music, funk, R&B, and jazz. His work crossed several decades and included collaborations with Miles Davis, Anita Baker, Frank Zappa, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, and George Clinton – some of the very best

His work carried over the generations and has been sampled by Daft Punk, Common, Kanye West, MF Doom, Madlib, Pete Rock, Ice Cube, and A Tribe Called Quest.

In July of this year, Duke released a new album called DreamWeaver in memory of his wife who passed just over a year ago.

Duke and his ongoing contributions to music will be sorely missed.

Below, watch Duke perform one of our favorite tracks, “Dukey Stick,” with Sheila E in studio. After the jump, find rare footage of a full live show at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Billy Cobham.

Montreux Jazz Festival performance after the jump

Rest In Peace, Don Blackman

 

Soul great Don Blackman has passed. In addition to releasing his self-titled solo album, the Queens born jazz-funk pianist, singer/songwriter, and producer played with Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Roy Ayers.

He also had a hand in the works of many influential pop icons of our age, including Janet Jackson, Sting, 2Pac, and Jay-Z.