“SAY A WEE PRAYER” FOR MIKE DURHAM

Mike Durham (left) and Rene Hagmann, pensive, at Whitley Bay, probably 2010.  Photo by Michael Steinman

Mike Durham (left) and Rene Hagmann, pensive, at Whitley Bay, probably 2010. Photo by Michael Steinman

I last saw trumpeter / singer / benefactor / tireless festival organizer Mike Durham in November 2012 at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.  Although he was recovering from minor surgery, he was entirely himself, masterfully running the huge enterprise with wit and love.

A few weeks into 2013, I was told that he was suffering from a grave illness and would not recover — news I was asked to keep to myself.

Yesterday, his daughter posted this on Facebook:

Dear Mike’s Facebook friends….for those of you that do not know already, I have some sad news.  This is Cassie Durham, Mike’s daughter, and I am writing to tell you that Dad is seriously ill having being diagnosed with terminal (and untreatable) brain tumours on January 22nd.  Things have moved on very fast and he is now in a hospice in Newcastle.  I could not think of another way of letting everyone know and this seemed a good an option as any.  As you can imagine, it has been a huge shock to Mum and Dad and my brother and I and all I can say is that he is comfortable and is not in any pain….say a wee prayer for him all of you – thanks.

This news makes me so sad.  I will have more to say about Mike eventually, but I thought, “Since we can send love through the universe just in our focused thoughts, why not send some of it to a man who has brought nothing but love to us?”  

I don’t mean a message to his family — who must be suffering with what is unendurable already.  But I would like to imagine Mike comforted by love.   

If you’ve appreciated any of the videos I and others have taken at Whitley Bay; if you’ve dug Mike’s own playing live or on disc; if you’ve had a good time because of him, send him a wordless THANKS.  

A “wee prayer” is never wasted.    

And here’s a JAZZ LIVES prayer suggestion.  Find a track with a hot trumpet passage and play it louder than usual.  Play it again.  

May the gentle spirits of Louis, Papa Joe, Muggsy, and Mike’s other friends and heroes guide him from one bandstand to the next.

“This one’s for you, Papa Mike.”

Here’s Mike in action — as trumpeter and spiritual leader — in a jam session at the Victory Pub in July 2010, with friends Andy Schumm, Martin Seck, Attila Korb, and ten others, moving easily through MY GAL SAL.  Mike gave us two gifts: not only did he play his horn but he made it possible for lovely jazz to go on all around him:

And the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party is rolling along — musicians booked, tickets sold, everything pointed forward under the guidance of some of Mike’s devoted musician friends and his two young lieutenants Julio Schwarz Andrade and Jonathan David Holmes . . . so the music will go on, as he would have wanted.

May your happiness increase.

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10 responses to ““SAY A WEE PRAYER” FOR MIKE DURHAM

  1. Thank You for the update. Mike was a guardian angel to Rich Johnson and myself, We could never have published BIX: The Davenport Album with out Mike. My prayers are with him and Patti. God Bless this angel. May his jounrey be peaceful. He is well loved.

  2. I pray for peace for this wonderful musician that was responsible for some of the “happy” music we are privileged to listen to. God bless him and his family. Thank you NM..This must have been a hard one to write about…My heart goes out to you, as well as Mike and his family.,,Much love, Auntie

  3. What terrible news. I’m thinking of Mike right now and thanking him for all the great work he’s done for classic jazz over the years. I once told someone that when mortality catches up, I want Louis’ May 18 1936 record (the one with the Luis Russell boys) of ‘Swing That Music’ played for me, because Louis sounds like he could carry on blowing forever, and only the limits of the 3 minute recording stopped him. I’ll be playing it good and loud for Mike tonight and to hell with the neighbours.

    Naturally, my thoughts are also with all Mike’s family, friends and collaeagues.

  4. Pingback: ONE MORE FOR MISTER MIKE: “NEW ORLEANS SHUFFLE”: MICHAEL McQUAID’S HALFWAY HOUSE ORCHESTRA at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Oct. 28, 2012) | JAZZ LIVES

  5. Pingback: ONE MORE FOR MISTER MIKE: “NEW ORLEANS SHUFFLE”: MICHAEL McQUAID’S HALFWAY HOUSE ORCHESTRA at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Oct. 28, 2012) | Jazz Music Trends

  6. I have known Mike from the time he was working in the Far East, which means way back in the late 70’s. I used to serve him with Scandinavian traditional Jazz recordings. Fingers crossed, Mike!

  7. Pingback: “LIVE SPORT”: A JAM SESSION AFTER HOURS IN THE VICTORY PUB, NEWCASTLE (Oct. 28-29, 2012) with the STARS of THE WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY | JAZZ LIVES

  8. Pingback: “LIVE SPORT”: A JAM SESSION AFTER HOURS IN THE VICTORY PUB, NEWCASTLE (Oct. 28-29, 2012) with the STARS of THE WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY | Jazz Music Trends

  9. Pingback: ONE MORE FOR MISTER MIKE: “NEW ORLEANS SHUFFLE”: MICHAEL McQUAID’S HALFWAY HOUSE ORCHESTRA at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Oct. 28, 2012) | Jazz Music Trends

  10. Ernie Phillips

    A Wikipedia entry for Mike would be a fitting response to the mans great work , could someone please compose an entry covering all of Mikes great work regardng jazz and his full history .
    Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party was a brilliant event in the jazz calender year , my thoughts are with all the family .

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