Passing Notes(8)

“Sneaky” Pete Kleinow, the country-rock innovator who turned on countless rock and psychedelic audiences to the steel guitar as an original member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, died January 6 at a nursing facility in Petaluma, California. He was 72. In addition to his groundbreaking, fuzzed-out steel-guitar work with the Burritos, Kleinow played sessions with rock royalty (the Stones, John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, and Fleetwood Mac, to name a few) and recorded music and effects for film and TV (he wrote the theme for the ’60s children’s series Gumby). Look for a proper tribute to this truly remarkable musician in the May 2007 issue.

Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, a jazz player who incorporated elements of rock into his sound—a sound that netted him 11 Grammy Awards—died from leukemia January 13, at the age of 57. An A-list studio musician credited with appearances on more than 900 recordings with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to James Brown to Frank Zappa, Brecker could also hold his own on the bop and fusion circuits, where he performed in the early ’70s with such heavyweights as pianist Horace Silver and drummer Billy Cobham, and with his own Brecker Brothers Band. Brecker’s last studio recording—a date with keyboardist Herbie Hancock, guitarist Pat Metheny, drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Brad Mehldau, and bassist John Patitucci—is due out in June.

Jazz pianist and composer Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure January 12, at the age of 69. Widow of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane (and mother of saxophonist Ravi Coltrane), Alice McLeod was playing with Terry Gibbs’ group at New York City’s Birdland when she met her future husband in 1963. After his death, she devoted herself to raising their children, while at the same time managing his archive and estate. She also continued to pursue her musical aspirations with like-minded free-jazz trailblazers such as Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson. A convert to Hinduism, Coltrane spent many of her last years recording devotional music for meditation.