These beautiful sad pictures were taken by the jazz scholar and drummer Sue Fischer.

And they remind us of the fragility of life — these two young men who gave us so much before death took them.  Tesch’s grave is not even close to where his family is buried; Don Murray is buried with his.

And then there’s the gravestone of the man I’ve spent the last fifty years admiring, even when I didn’t know his name:

Sue didn’t take that picture and tells me that the cemetery is closed to visitors because of some illegal activities that had taken place — which makes me sad, because I had hoped at one point to make a holy pilgrimage to this site.  I hope I will get to do so in this lifetime.

(As a digression: the Beloved, hearing me talk about Sidney for yet another time, asked me, “Why is he so important — to you or to jazz?”  I thought about it for a minute, and said, “He was generous: he made everyone around him sound better.  He was himself: you knew his sound as soon as he started.  He lifted everyone up.  He was adaptable.  Louis loved him.  And he had an enthusiastic life where he didn’t waste a moment — as well, he had a beautiful death.  To die telling a joke among friends seems ideal.”)

These pieces of carved stone make me mournful.  But perhaps they should remind us both that we are all fragile and finite yet the music we make lives on.   Tesch, Don, and Sidney left us so many uplifting beauties that — as long as we remember them with love, as long as we play their records and say, “Wow, that Teschemacher!” or “How beautiful Don Murray sounds — I hear Goodman idolized him fiercely,” or, “Did you hear what Sidney just did behind Lester?  Did you HEAR it?” then these musicians — only theoretically dead — will never vanish.  Offering such loving remembrance of the dead may be scant tribute, but our love reverberates, and the dead, I believe, know.



6 responses to “GONE, GONE, GONE

  1. This is so sad…When you realize how young they were when they passed it is even sadder….A great loss to thier loved ones and the world of music,

  2. I read this and was touched, this was as beautiful as it was sad…thank you.

  3. Thank you so much, Tom — making people feel (deeply, I hope) is what I want to do. Lovely to have you as a reader — Cheers, Michael

  4. I know how you feel. I was in the UK for a wedding, and I had to fly over the English Channel to commemorate the disappearance of Major Alton Glenn Miller.

  5. There is a fascinating book — John Sheridan showed it to me — that proves the whole story of Miller’s death was a cover-up. Miller was undercover, working for Eisenhower . . . but it’s nice that you felt it in your heart. He is missed!

  6. Oh Don Murray… Su sonido y sus sentimientos al lado de Bix… Cuantas veces he oido su inicio de Sorry? Esos compases iniciales son LO MEJOR que ningun clarinetista haya hecho jamas. Lo creo desde que -hace 54 años- tenia 14… y me enamore de su sonido y me ire algun dia -junto a muchas cosas mas, por supuesto- con sus sones, y los Bix, en mi alma.

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