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Junior Mance, Jazz Pianist Who Played With Giants, Dies at 92

Junior Mance, Jazz Pianist Who Played With Giants, Dies at 92
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Junior Mance, Jazz Pianist Who Played With Giants, Dies at 92

Junior Mance, Jazz Pianist Who Performed With Giants, Dies at 92

Junior Mance, a buoyant, bluesy jazz pianist who labored with a number of the greatest names in jazz, together with Lester Younger, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley and Dinah Washington, earlier than establishing himself because the chief of his personal teams, died on Jan. 17 at his house in Manhattan. He was 92.

His spouse, Gloria Clayborne Mance, mentioned the trigger was a mind hemorrhage attributable to a fall final month. He additionally had Alzheimer’s illness.

Mr. Mance had a powerful affinity for the blues — he wrote a ebook, “ Play Blues Piano” (1967) — however he additionally performed the usual repertoire with aplomb.

“The blues ooze by way of his performances, even when he’s not really taking part in a blues,” John S. Wilson of Gadget Clock wrote in a overview of a efficiency by Mr. Mance in Manhattan in 1982.

Mr. Mance’s profession took off within the late Forties, when he labored with, amongst others, the saxophonist Gene Ammons, with whom he made his first information. Drafted into the Military, Mr. Mance wished to affix the band at Fort Knox however was advised he couldn’t until he performed a marching-band instrument. He didn’t.

One evening whereas on guard responsibility, he heard big-band music coming from the service membership. At first he thought he was listening to information, however when he entered the membership he noticed a stay band led by a soon-to-be-famous saxophonist.

It was Mr. Adderley, who was main the Fort Knox band. Mr. Mance, nonetheless in his fatigues and fight boots, requested to take a seat in, and impressed Mr. Adderley. The saxophonist quickly organized for Mr. Mance to affix the band and change into the corporate clerk, which let him keep away from going to Korea. He would later study that a lot of the troopers in his firm had died in an ambush.

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“From that day on, Cannon and I had been finest associates for all times,” Mr. Mance advised the web site JazzWax in 2011.

After his discharge in 1953, Mr. Mance joined the home band on the Beehive in Chicago, the place he accompanied musicians like Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins. In 1954 and 1955 he toured with Ms. Washington. He performed with Mr. Adderley’s quintet over the following two years earlier than transferring on to Mr. Gillespie’s group in 1958.

In a overview of a efficiency by Mr. Gillespie’s band in Kansas Metropolis, Mo., in 1959, a critic for The Kansas Metropolis Instances wrote: “In Junior Mance, Dizzy has discovered a outstanding pianist. Mance performs with the results of thunder and lightning and appears to have a minimum of 14 fingers.”

That yr, on the invitation of the producer Norman Granz, Mr. Mance recorded “Junior,” his first album as a frontrunner, with Ray Brown on bass and Lex Humphries on drums.

A overview in The Boston Globe known as Mr. Mance “one of the crucial swinging and completely pleasant pianists in jazz immediately” and described the album as a “ball all the best way.”

Julian Clifford Mance Jr. was born on Oct. 10, 1928, in Chicago and grew up in Evanston. His father was a garments presser, and his mom, Marie (McCollum) Mance, was a housekeeper.

Younger Julian started taking part in the upright piano in his household’s house at age 5. He picked up music simply, and his father taught him boogie-woogie and stride. When he was 10, the saxophonist who lived upstairs from the Mances requested the elder Mr. Mance if Junior may fill in for the ailing pianist on the roadhouse the place his band was taking part in.

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“My father mentioned I may,” Mr. Mance advised JazzWax. “The gig went nicely. The viewers was made up largely of truckers taking a break from the street. Nobody paid a lot consideration.”

He performed in golf equipment all through his teenagers, earlier than coming into Roosevelt School in Chicago (now Roosevelt College). His mom wished him to be a physician, however he registered for music courses. He stayed in class for a yr and a half — at one level he was suspended for per week for taking part in jazz in a apply room as an alternative of classical music — earlier than becoming a member of Mr. Ammons’s band.

After taking part in in others’ bands by way of the Fifties, he spent the remainder of his profession largely main small teams and recording dozens of albums for Atlantic, Capitol, Jazzland and different labels. His final two albums, each launched in 2008, had been “Groovin’ With Junior” and “Blue Minor.”

Reviewing his album “Mance,” launched in 2000, Alex Henderson of AllMusic wrote: “Junior Mance’s work was impressively constant within the ’90s. The veteran pianist didn’t do something groundbreaking, however he excelled by sticking with the laborious bop/soul-jazz strategy that he had lengthy since perfected.”

Mr. Mance additionally taught within the B.F.A. jazz program on the New Faculty from the late Eighties till 2011, and toured with 100 Gold Fingers, a jazz ensemble consisting of 10 pianists, together with Marian McPartland, Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan.

For greater than twenty years, accompanied by a bassist, Mr. Mance was a fixture on the Knickerbocker Bar and Grill in Greenwich Village. He retired in 2016.

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Along with his spouse, Mr. Mance is survived by his stepdaughters, Nadia King and Gail Wilson; a stepson, Walter Jones III; two step-granddaughters; and one step-great-grandson. Two earlier marriages resulted in divorce, and a 3rd resulted in his spouse’s dying.

Though Alzheimer’s prevented Mr. Mance from performing, music nonetheless performed in his thoughts, his spouse mentioned. On the evening he fell, she mentioned, he imagined that he had completed a street engagement.

“He was in mattress, speaking to a fan who should have mentioned he loved his final quantity, and Junior mentioned ‘I’m so glad you probably did,’” Ms. Mance mentioned. “And I believe he should have reached out to offer the man a hug or a handshake and tumbled off the bed.”

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