Jazz often seems like am unending exercise in mourning the dead, but I think this news especially sad. The brilliant, blind, uninhibited Canadian jazz musician and scholar Jeff Healey died on March 2 at the age of 41. He was an inspiring singer and guitarist, a plunging, devil-may-care trumpet player whose heart was always in the right place. Many more clips are on YouTube, and his CDs Adventures in Jazzland and Among Friends — where he plays serious hot jazz alongside Marty Grosz, Dan Levinson, Vince Giordano, Tom Pletcher, Dick Sudhalter, John R. T. Davies, and Jim Shepherd — show that he was born to jazz nobility. There was no one like him, and his death leaves us much poorer.
A note for purists: Healey made his name as an electric blues-rock guitarist, but he loved Annette Hanshaw, Eddie Lang, and other Twenties and Thirties jazz arcana: the CDs issued on his Sensation label are devoted to Irving Mills and Red McKenzie, if his aesthetic credentials are in question.