August Marks Passing of Two Jazz Legends and a Close Friend
remembering Herb Pomeroy, Max Roach and Bernice Rosenbaum
Herb Pomeroy and Max Roach, two jazz icons who Ran knew for decades, and longtime friend Bernice Rosenbaum died in August.
Pomeroy, a trumpeter and influential educator who taught at Berklee, MIT and the New England Conservatory, died August 11 at age 77. (Read the Boston Globe obituary here.)
Ran first encountered Pomeroy at the Lenox School of Jazz in 1959, when the trumpeter, known for his graceful style, was a conducting a band that included the fierce saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Ran well remembers the shocking contrast between their approaches to jazz. Other memories include taking Pomeroy’s class on Duke Ellington at Berklee in the 1970s and playing a concert together with the MIT Wind Ensemble in 2004. “As George Schuller pointed out to the Chris Connor class, he was a father figure to so many musicians who studied in the Boston area,” Ran said.
Roach, the pioneering bebop drummer who recorded historic albums with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, died August 16 at 83. (Photo below right; read the New York Times obit here).
Ran met Roach in 1957 at Lenox. A few years later, Ran was working as a waiter at a club called the Jazz Gallery in New York City when Roach played for six weeks with Abbey Lincoln (his wife at the time). Roach was performing the newly released We Insist! Freedom Now Suite, a classic album inspired by the civil rights struggle featuring Lincoln’s vocals. Other vivid memories include seeing Roach perform solo at NEC’s Jordan Hall in the 1970s (“fabulous”) and accepting the MacArthur Fellowship together (they both won the award in 1988). “There was no greater drummer than Max, and he was also one of the great composers,” Ran said. “I would see him over the years and we would reminisce … he would always joke, ‘Don’t drop the dishes.’.”
Bernice Rosenbaum, Ran’s close friend and Brookline neighbor, died at 93 on August 13. Bernice, a retired social worker, was an energetic supporter of Ran’s music, attending shows as often as possible and participating in several concerts at NEC. “She was quite a character — always asking me if I had composed anything new,” Ran said. “Even in her nineties, it would take a blizzard to keep her from coming to a show.”