Jemal Countess/WireImage

Johnny Mandel, a composer and orchestrator who brought emotional depth and a sophisticated sheen to the realms of popular song, television and film, died on Monday at his home in Ojai, Calif. He was 94.

Clay Walker

Freddy Cole, whose debonair yet unassuming vocal style lighted his way through a distinguished jazz career, in and out of the shadow of his older brother Nat “King” Cole, died on Saturday at his home in Atlanta, Ga.

Jorge Santana, who died on May 14, left behind an impressive but often undervalued body of work.

He was a formidable guitarist, and while he never received the same attention as his older brother, Carlos, he deserves much wider recognition. This selection of tracks is a good place to start.

Courtesy of the artist

Lucky Peterson, a keyboardist, guitarist and singer whose blues career kicked off with a novelty hit at age 5, eventually sprawling over dozens of albums and thousands of high-octane gigs, died in Dallas, Tx. on May 17. He was 55.

His death was announced on his Facebook page. Blues guitarist Shawn Kellerman, his longtime friend and band mate, said the cause was a stroke.

Jorge Santana, a guitarist known for his central role in the Latin rock band Malo, as well as his collaborations with the Fania All Stars, died on May 14. He was 68.

His older brother, Carlos Santana, announced his death on Facebook. The family said Jorge died of natural causes.

Courtesy of the artist

Holli Ross was one of my favorite singers and dearest friends. She passed early Saturday morning after several years fighting cancer.  

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

Little Richard, the self-described "king and queen" of rock and roll and an outsize influence on everyone from David Bowie to Prince, died Saturday in Tullahoma, Tenn. He was 87 years old.

Bill Sobel, a lawyer for Little Richard, tells NPR that the cause of death was bone cancer. Rolling Stone was the first to report on Little Richard's death.

Aaron Jackendoff / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Richie Cole, an alto saxophonist, bandleader and composer with a steadfast commitment to the hard-driving verities of bebop, died on May 2 at his home in Carnegie, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. He was 72.

Drummer Tony Allen has died at age 79. He is widely hailed as one of the founders of Afrobeat alongside his longtime musical partner Fela Kuti, with whom he played for 15 years.

Allen died Wednesday evening in Paris of a heart attack, his manager, Eric Trosset, told NPR. Trosset told Agence France-Presse that Allen took ill in the afternoon and was taken to the Hôpital européen Georges-Pompidou, where he died.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Michael Cogswell, a jazz archivist and historian who took the lead in turning Louis Armstrong’s modest home into the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a cherished New York institution and a site of pilgrimage, died on Monday. He was 66.

Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Henry Grimes met with a hero’s welcome, his first of many, when he lugged an upright bass onstage at the eighth annual Vision Festival.

Peter Gannushkin /

Giuseppi Logan, a saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist whose esteemed career in free jazz bracketed a mysterious absence of almost 40 years, died on Friday at the Lawrence Nursing Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. He was 84.

Frans Schellekens/Redferns / Getty Images

Lee Konitz, an exemplar of modern jazz improvisation, and arguably the most influential alto saxophone soloist after bebop progenitor Charlie Parker, died on Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He was 92.

His son, Josh Konitz, said the cause was pneumonia, related to COVID-19.

Allen Spatz

Professor Joe Torres, a pianist who came to the public’s attention with salsa bandleader and trombonist Willie Colón, died on Monday at a senior home in the Bronx. He was 76.

Percussionist José Mangual, Jr., a close friend and longtime band mate, said he died of natural causes.

J. Elon Goodman / courtesy of Truth Revolution Records

Andy González, who died on April 9 in the Bronx, was a bassist who followed in the footsteps of seminal Latin players like Israel “Cachao” López and Bobby Rodriguez, eventually joining their ranks as one of the most important figures on the instrument.

Courtesy of the artist

Jymie Merritt, a bassist who anchored some of the leading groups of jazz’s postwar era, like Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, before establishing his own sphere of influence as a composer and theorist in Philadelphia, died on Friday. He was 93.

Richard Teitelbaum, an electronic artist, keyboardist and composer who combined an interest in non-western musical languages with a focus on experimental practice, died on Thursday at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, N.Y. His wife, the classical pianist Hiroko Sakurazawa, said the cause was a major stroke. He was 80.

Eddy Davis, a banjoist and bandleader who enjoyed a sprawling career in traditional jazz, most visibly through a decades-long association with Woody Allen, died on Tuesday at Mount Sinai West hospital in New York City. He was 79.

Conal Fowkes, a pianist who worked closely with Davis, notably as a touring duo, said the cause was complications from the coronavirus.


Onaje Allan Gumbs, a pianist-composer whose firm foundation in hard bop supported an expansive career in pop-R&B and smooth jazz, died on Monday at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, N.Y. He was 70.

"And, I'll paint your pretty picture with a song" — Bill Withers


Wallace Roney, who died on March 31 of complications from the coronavirus, paid a visit to Salon Sessions just last fall.

Bill Withers, the sweet-voiced baritone behind such classic songs as "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lean on Me" and "Use Me" has died. Withers was 81 years old. According to a family statement given to the Associated Press, he died Monday in Los Angeles due to heart complications.

Bucky Pizzarelli, a tasteful sage of jazz guitar who spent the first phase of his career as a prolific session player and the last phase as a celebrated patriarch, died on Wednesday in Saddle River, N.J. Guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, his oldest son and regular musical partner, said the cause was the coronavirus. He was 94.

Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family, has died at the age of 85. His death was announced in tweets from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where his son Wynton is managing and artistic director.

He reportedly went into the hospital over the weekend with symptoms of pneumonia. The New York Times reports that his son Branford says the cause of death was complications from COVID-19.

Wallace Roney, a trumpeter and composer who embodied the pugnacious, harmonically restive side of post-bop throughout an illustrious four-decade career, died this morning at St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J. He was 59.

The cause was complications from COVID-19, according to his fiancée, Dawn Felice Jones. She said Roney had been admitted to the hospital last Wednesday.

Ken Weiss

Mike Longo, who led a distinguished jazz career as a pianist, composer and educator, notably as longtime musical director for Dizzy Gillespie, died on Sunday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He was 83 and lived in New York.

The cause was COVID-19, confirmed Dorothy Longo, his wife of 32 years.

John Brathwaite

As a bandleader or as a sideman, percussionist Ray Mantilla, who died Saturday at 85, always provided a boost. Here are seven performances that really achieve liftoff. 

Ray Mantilla, a percussionist and bandleader who led a prolific jazz career for more than half a century, died on Saturday, at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He was 85.  

Kris King /

McCoy Tyner, who died on Friday at 81, has been a steadfast presence on the air at WBGO since our inception.

His album Horizon was made in 1979, the year WBGO was founded, and it quickly joined the ranks of McCoy Tyner recordings in our library. And of course, he’s featured on myriad albums by his peers, from John Coltrane to Freddie Hubbard to Newark’s own Wayne Shorter.

Updated on Saturday, March 7 at 11:45 a.m. ET

McCoy Tyner, a pianist whose deep resonance, hammering attack and sublime harmonic invention made him a game-changing catalyst in jazz and beyond, died Friday, March 6, at his home in New Jersey. His death was confirmed by his manager. No cause of death was given. He was 81.