My beloved brother Dennis passed away on Monday afternoon about 3:30.
He slipped away
peacefully an hour after being removed from the respirator. The
doctors and staff at Mt.
Sinai Hospital were beyond wonderful.
At the benefit concert four hours later Wynton Marsalis had to tell
the audience that
Dennis had passed that afternoon. There was a collective moan from the
The next two-and-a-half hours have seldom been equalled. Among the
highlights were Tony
Bennett with Dick Charlap, the Lovano Nonet with whom Dennis has
played since the
beginning, John Scofield with Jack De Johnette, Dick Oates with Dom
Salvador, Harry Ellis
with Joe Cohn, Mose Allison with Matt Wilson, the Dave Berger Sultans
of Swing, and Bill
Frisell with Paul Motion with Ron Carter. I don't think I have to
explain my complete
lack of composure when Frisell and company played Hank Williams' "I'm
So Lonesome I Could
Cry," and when Wynton Marsalis played "Stardust" with the Dave Berger
Wynton shared a story Dennis told him and John Scofield the last time
they saw him. It
was classic Dennis--Fats Waller going to Chicago to stay with Pops for
Dave Berger told the story of how Dennis became a part of his band.
They had played
almost the whole run of the Harlem Nutcracker and Peter Washington,
had a death in his family. They talked about whom to ask, and they
were able to get
Dennis to play the last show.
Dennis came that afternoon and asked to look at the music and walked
through it with
Dave. Then he played the first half of the show flawlessly, AND with
passion. At the end
of the show the entire band stood for an ovation--not for the dancers,
but for Dennis!
Dave said he has never seen that happen before or since.
Seing Dennis's longtime comrades Joe Lovano, Ralph Lalama, John
Scofield, Harry Ellis
pouring their hearts out in solos was something I will never forget.
At the conclusion of
the evening Dave Berger said, "And now we are going out with something
Dennis loved to
do, and that is to swing." They played Count Basie's "Jumpin at the
Woodside" like they
were on fire. I'm sure Dennis was there helping Yasushi drive that