News, notes and follow-ups

Category: jazz

Tribute for percussionist Francisco Aguabella

A concert Saturday in New York was dedicated to the memory of Afro-Cuban percussionist Francisco Aguabella, who died earlier this month in Los Angeles.

"They need him Up There to keep the rumba going," Papo Pepín told the New York Daily News in advance of Saturday's "The Conga Kings" concert at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Aguabella played with a variety of artists including Tito Puente, Peggy Lee and Dizzy Gillespie, and was a sacred drummer who taught new generations of percussionists. Raul Fernandez, a professor in UC Irvine's Chicano/Latino studies department, said Aguabella "was the carrier of the tradition.... He was the only person in the U.S. who learned from Cuban masters" that went back to the 19th century.

You can read the news obituary on Aguabella here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Francisco Aguabella, second from left, performs in 2001 with Lilian Martin, left, Joe Adington, right, and dancer Alicia Brach Cruz. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Canadian jazz great Rob McConnell dies

Mcconnell Rob McConnell, a Canadian jazz musician best known for his band the Boss Brass, has died. He was 75.

McConnell, who had cancer, died May 1 in a Toronto hospital, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"The members of this strikingly creative orchestra speak essentially with one exhilarating voice, that of the maestro," The Times' Leonard Feather wrote in 1981 of McConnell and the Boss Brass. "He composes or arranges almost all the music, plays some of the best solos and relates well to audiences with his dry, laconic wit."

Guido Basso, who played in the Boss Brass, told the CBC the group "was the only Canadian jazz band that could cross the border and play the living daylights out of U.S. musicians."

We'll have more later at

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Rob McDonnell in 1996

Celebration of Jake Hanna's life Sunday

Hanna A celebration of Jake Hanna's life will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Catalina Bar and Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

Hanna, a versatile drummer who played with such jazz figures as Woody Herman and was a longtime member of the band on Merv Griffin's television show, died in February. He was 78.

You can find Hanna's news obituary here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Jake Hanna

Sir John Dankworth, British jazz musician, dies

Dankworth Sir John Dankworth, the British jazz composer, saxophonist and band leader, has died. He was 82.

Dankworth died Saturday in a London hospital after a long illness.

Dame Cleo Laine, the jazz singer who married Dankworth in 1958 after they met when she auditioned for a spot in his band, announced her husband's death before the finale of an anniversary concert at the Stables, the theater they founded together.

The Times will have a more complete obituary later at

-- Associated Press

Photo: Sir John Dankworth at Buckingham Palace in 2006 after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Credit: Associated Press


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