Lew Soloff, one of the busiest Jazz trumpet musicians, died unexpectedly yesterday after an apparent heart attack. He just turned 71 in February. It seems that he is on every second Jazz or Jazz-related LP from the 70s and beyond – his style always crisp and on the mark, with fiery solos and brimming high-notes, with a nod to both Kenny Dorham and the funkier sound of Blood, Sweat & Tears, of which he was a member from 1968 to 1973.
Lew Soloff, born Lewis Michael Soloff, taught at the Manhattan School of Music , at SUNY, Purchase, and the Mannes/New School. He really played with just about everyone, from Carla Bley’s Big Band to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, from Stanley Clarke to Tito Puente to Stanley Turrentine.
He recorded his first album under his own name relatively late in his career: Pro Jazz Records in 1983 released his “Hanalei Bay”. Apart from his jazz chops, Mr. Soloff played on a huge number of Soul albums in the 80s. He was part of the Luther Vandross-produced “Get It Right” album by Aretha Franklin in 1983, “Objects Of Desire” by Michael Franks from 1982, the 1980 Marlena Shaw album “Take A Bite”, “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me” by Chaka Khan from 1981, or the late Frank Sinatra album “L.A. Is My Lady”, among countless others.
One of his last performances was at the Harvey School in Katonah, New York, in December, where he assembled a stellar cast of musicians including Ron Affif on guitar, Essiet Essiet on bass, Victor Lewis on drums, and Grace Kelly on sax and vocals. His last release was “Sketches Of Spain” featuring the arrangements of Gil Evans, recorded with the Harmonie Ensemble New York conducted by Steve Richman, recorded in 2010.