paul secor

Brooks Kerr, RIP

8 posts in this topic

A friend forwarded me an email from Jazz Promo Services:

"On 4/29/18, 9:25 AM, "Steven Lasker" <jazz-research@groups.io on behalf of stevenlasker@ca.rr.com> wrote:

   Charlotte Kerr has just phoned to let me know that her husband, Brooks Kerr, 66, passed away on the evening of April 28 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital after an illness that saw him decline dramatically over the final two weeks. The exact cause is as yet undetermined, but she plans to request an autopsy.

   Brooks took up piano at an early age and decided he wanted to specialize in jazz. He gravitated to stride piano and his education was greatly assisted by a perfect choice in mentors: Willie "the Lion" Smith and Duke Ellington, both of whom taught him lessons in music and life. His thirst for historical trivia concerning jazz and the world of Duke Ellington in particular was unquenchable. That, coupled with a prodigious memory, made him a priceless resource to this Ellington researcher. Brooks befriended and gigged with numerous jazzmen, especially Ellingtonians. Kerr, Russell Procope and Sonny Greer formed a trio that played together during much of the 1970s.

   John S. Wilson's 1974 New York Times profile of Brooks can be read here:

   https://www.nytimes.com/1974/05/12/archives/he-knows-more-ellington-than-duke-about-brooks-kerr.html

   Brooks was a dear friend of 30 years, and I feel cheated out of many more years of friendship that should have been.

   Sad news to break on Duke Ellington's birthday...."

 

I have no further information.  If this proves to be false, a moderator has my permission to delete this thread.
 

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Paul, my deepest condolences for the loss of your friend.

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So sorry to hear, Paul ....

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Sorry to hear this Paul. He sounds like a very cool cat, gone too soon.

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I think that my initial post was confusing. The email came from Steve Lasker, who evidently knew Brooks Kerr. I never met the man and was simply passing on information about his passing. Sorry for any confusion. 

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His cousin, a musician in the post-punk vein and also a lefty political activist, is Kerr's cousin. He posted some remembrances on Facebook and I'll try to get permission to quote those here.

Kerr seems like a really far-out and interesting dude. I'd heard the name before but didn't know much about him.

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From Fred Weaver:

Rest In Peace to my cousin Brooks Kerr who died last weekend. Brooks was a once-in-a-lifetime character, respected musician and essentially an adopted son of Duke Ellington. Over the past several decades, Brooks loved to create three-party phone calls where he would listen silently as my mother spoke to his friends, many of whom were famous musicians, their spouses and children. My mother knows next to nothing about jazz, so she talked politics with Max Roach, cats with Doris Parker and history with Alan Gershwin. Brooks would leave frantic, rambling free jazz voicemails on our phone that referenced people, quotes and historical events I don’t know that I’d ever be able to connect (or, hell, even *identify*). These messages were a great source of entertainment and bewilderment, and invariably wrapped up with the exclamation“Til Death Do Us Part!” before hanging up. Indeed, Brooks. You will be greatly missed. 

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I first heard of him in the last years of Ellington, a "protégé" who seemed to legit know everything about Ellington. I now see that he made a record or two with Ellingtonians, I might like to hear those.

RIP, and "Soda Fountain Rag".

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