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Walt Dickerson R.I.P.


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#1 ghost of miles

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:16 PM

Just posted to the Jazz Programmer Listserv:

To all concerned:

I was asked to inform you of the regrettable death of vibraphonist Walt Dickerson, by his beloved wife, Elizabeth. Walt passed away on May 15 from cardiac arrest. He was 80 years of age and lived in Willow Grove, PA.

In sympathy,

Andrew Cyrille



#2 JSngry

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:21 PM

By all accounts, a highly principled man who made music that was every bit as highly principled.

Always a loss when somebody like that leaves this plane, but always a blessing to have them here while they are.

RIP, and deepest, sincerest thanks.

#3 Guest_Bill Barton_*

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:08 PM

Oh, no! Sad news indeed. R.I.P.

Just last week I played music from the remarkable duo album he did with Sun Ra on Bright Moments. Time to haul that disc out again in memoriam.

He was a beautiful player and by all accounts I've heard a beautiful person as well. He will be missed.

#4 ghost of miles

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:26 PM

I love that record with Sun Ra, Bill B. Need to spin that one again myself...as well as TO A QUEEN.

#5 .:.impossible

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:43 PM

Oh no. I still had hope that he would play out again. I've been listening to To My Queen on vinyl over and over again this week. I'm constantly impressed by the fullness of his tone, regardless of how quickly he is playing. This is even more evident on vinyl than the CD that I've been listening to all this time.

It is possible to miss a man you've never met.

Life Rays Walt. Life Rays.

#6 robviti

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 04:52 PM

i've been a fan of walt's for several years. i was drawn to his rather distinctive sound, owing in part to his self-modified mallets. i also enjoyed sharing his music with people who only knew bobby, milt, and a few other vibists. goodbye walt, and thank you.

#7 7/4

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:00 PM

rest in peace Walt.

#8 paul secor

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:57 PM

Reading - Walt Dickerson R.I.P. - really hit me hard.

You were unique, Mr. Dickerson. Thanks for all you gave us.

#9 jazzbo

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 07:11 PM

More sad news. Death has no mercy in this land.

#10 mikeweil

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 07:16 PM

What a unique vibist!

R.I.P.







p.s. AFAIK he was born in 1931 - that would make him 77 years of age - at least the jazz encyclopedias I have state this.

Edited by mikeweil, 17 May 2008 - 07:20 PM.


#11 J.H. Deeley

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 07:36 PM

R.I.P.

Edited by J.H. Deeley, 17 May 2008 - 08:00 PM.


#12 ghost of miles

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 09:40 PM

Working on a brief writeup for the Night Lights site and listening to some of the recordings as I do so--after Andrew Hill and Cyrille, I'd forgotten how good George Tucker is on the original QUEEN. IMPRESSIONS OF A PATCH OF BLUE holds up really well (Sun Ra on celeste!), too; one of Jerry Goldsmith's slighter scores, but Dickerson makes good, brooding use of the material. I also didn't realize how little he'd recorded (at all?) in the past 25 years. Certainly grateful for what he did leave us.

#13 sidewinder

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 12:43 AM

Oh no, more sad news to start the day :( - and I was really hoping one day to catch one of his performances but sadly it was not to be. A most dignified musician and, yes - very unique artist with a very fine recording legacy. A few of the Lps will be coming out today - 'Impressions of a Patch of Blue', 'Jazz Impressions of Lawrence of Arabia' and the Steeplechase album done with Sun Ra ('Visions') plus the direct cut Steeplechase 'Divine Revelations'. One of my all-time favourites on the vibes - may he RIP.

Edited by sidewinder, 18 May 2008 - 12:44 AM.


#14 JohnS

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 02:22 AM

As Sidewinder says, more sad news to start the day. A truly original vibes player.

#15 JohnS

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 02:22 AM

As Sidewinder says, more sad news to start the day. A truly original vibes player.

#16 JSngry

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:56 AM

I've got a trio album (Serendipity - Steeplechase) he did w/one Rudy McDaniels on electric bass & Edgar Bateman on drums, recorded live in Philly, 8/11/76. Rudy McDaniels became far better known as Jamaladeen Tacuma and for playing far different music(s) than this. And yet he sounds perfectly in sync w/Dickerson here. I've got to think that that's because Walt Dickerson's own voice was so strong and secure that playing with him was actually "easy" if you had the requisite body of skills and openness of mind and spirit. There's no sense that he's "trying" to do anything, he's doing it. It's the voice of a leader, a person who knows exactly what they are doing and exactly where they are going with it, and it is a joyous privilege to be able to play with such a voice.

This holds true of every performance of his I've ever heard, this clarity of vision & voice. It is a rare quality and one of the hallmarks of a truly mature artist, the ability to make "complex" thoughts "speak" clearly and unambiguously. Many people might have slept on Walt Dickerson in his lifetime (and some of that was due to his self-imposed semi-isolation), and many more might well do so in the future (as they will so many others), but anybody who does get to the work of Walt Dickerson will find it all of a piece - strong, principled music that speaks its truths with a combination of "complexity" & clarity rarely found in any music.

Edited by JSngry, 18 May 2008 - 04:57 AM.


#17 AllenLowe

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 08:40 AM

Francis Davis wrote a memorable piece on the Patch of Blue album which was reprinted in one of his collections, though I'm uncertain, offhand, which one -

#18 Holy Ghost

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 09:47 AM

I don't own anything by Dickerson (just haven't gotten around to exploring his work yet) but my respects nonetheless. RIP.

#19 Noj

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 11:13 AM

Now playing A Sense Of Direction, to be followed by Relativity and To My Queen in Walt's honor. RIP

#20 JohnS

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 12:19 PM

I only have Prestige vinyl but I've got out Sense of Direction for later.

#21 JohnS

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 12:20 PM

I only have Prestige vinyl but I've got out Sense of Direction for later.

#22 Nate Dorward

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 12:46 PM

Very sad news--I only have Impressions of A Patch of Blue but it's pretty extraordinary.

#23 six string

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:02 PM

By all accounts, a highly principled man who made music that was every bit as highly principled.

Always a loss when somebody like that leaves this plane, but always a blessing to have them here while they are.

RIP, and deepest, sincerest thanks.


Wonderful post. My sentiments exactly. I've only been aware of his music for about nine months, but I love everything I've heard by him.

#24 ghost of miles

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 05:06 PM

Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches eulogy (some very good links here to a Dickerson interview and article that the blogger/author wrote)

Night Lights post

WBGO blog writeup

Jsngry, I hear that PEACE is another very good Dickerson trio Steeplechase album. The only later album I have is TO MY QUEEN REVISITED (with Albert Dailey on piano).

Edited by ghost of miles, 18 May 2008 - 05:20 PM.


#25 P.L.M

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 05:20 PM

Sad. RIP, Walt.
I discover WALT with "TO MY SON" on Steeple Chase in the late 70's.
I own now all of his available disco and like it almost all.
But "TO MY SON" stays as my favorite.
It's the records who made me like the vibes.

#26 JSngry

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 05:31 PM

Jsngry, I hear that PEACE is another very good Dickerson trio Steeplechase album. The only later album I have is TO MY QUEEN REVISITED (with Albert Dailey on piano).


The Soul Note trio album w/Sirone & Andrew Cyrille is one that I would recommend unhesitatingly. Although I would do that for basically ever Dickerson album, this one gets it even more so.

#27 J.H. Deeley

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 09:08 PM

Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches eulogy (some very good links here to a Dickerson interview and article that the blogger/author wrote)

Night Lights post

WBGO blog writeup

Jsngry, I hear that PEACE is another very good Dickerson trio Steeplechase album. The only later album I have is TO MY QUEEN REVISITED (with Albert Dailey on piano).



NOTE: some sources give Dickerson’s birth year as 1931, but Andrew Cyrille’s message would seem to indicate that he was born three to four years earlier. Joshua Jackson’s WBGO blog tribute gives a birth date of April 16, 1928, which would have made Dickerson 81 when he passed away.


No, it would have made him 80.

Edited by J.H. Deeley, 18 May 2008 - 09:09 PM.


#28 Kalo

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 09:53 PM

Francis Davis wrote a memorable piece on the Patch of Blue album which was reprinted in one of his collections, though I'm uncertain, offhand, which one -

It's in his book Like Young, a reprint of his liner notes for the 1999 Verve Elite CD reissue of Impressions of a Patch of Blue.

#29 king ubu

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 03:23 AM

Sad news :(

#30 andybleaden

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 03:41 AM

A real shame as he made some cracking recordings. My favourites were the Prestige numbers

Shame :(



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