RIP to Junior Mance.
What an amazing human being and musician with such an incredible life.Here’s a short story, as I have no doubt many will be written, it’s what happens when you’re a legend. For those who know or don’t know, I have lived most of my life as a musician in the role of band leader. I was fortunate in the beginning of my journey to be surrounded by some of the greats, giving me advice in how to succeed.
But as with most things, before I would become a leader, I first needed to learn how to be one. Junior helped with that. To this day, he is one of the few that had given me the opportunity to join him on the bandstand, to perform with him in one of his versions of his Jazz Quintet. I wish that band lasted longer, But in that time it was real education, the type one can only wish for.
We had first met back in my New School years, which quickly evolved into him being a private teacher of mine and ultimately lead to a great friendship. So much so, alongside with Andrew Hadro, we eventually got him on board for a number of years teaching during the the summers at the Litchfield Jazz Camp. If you only knew the stories I could tell, as many of us would be sitting, surrounding him at a table, until last call, drinking bottles of red wine, hearing snippets of his amazing life.
Junior was intelligent, charismatic, hysterical, a walking, talking history class and a musical genius and legend. I could go on and on. He knew that music, specifically this jazz art form, needed to be past down for it to survive. I was and will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me, for what now seems like a lifetime ago.
It wasn’t just me, he was his own living, breathing music university. So there are many of us that will always be thankful.
So cheers to what a great life he lived. May we all be so lucky.
RIP Junior Mance – October 10th 1928 – January 17th, 2021 – 92 Years Young.