May 28, 2024

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The saxophonist and tap dancer Ronald McFadden at age 66, Brazilian flautist Bebeto Castilho at age 83, German saxophonist Helmut Forsthoff at age 78: Videos, Photos

McFadden performed for decades with his brother Lonnie McFadden. The two danced, sang and played instruments. “I love entertaining,” Ronald McFadden told KCUR’s Up to Date last year.

Ronald McFadden, part of the legendary Kansas City jazz duo the McFadden Brothers, died this week at 66 years old.

McFadden and his brother Lonnie performed on stage together for nearly 60 years as dancers, singers and instrumentalists. The pair grew up in Kansas City’s jazz scene, learning to tap from their father, a famous dancer and singer who went by Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden.

Ronald McFadden told KCUR’s Up to Date last July that he had no idea that he’d end up having a lifelong career performing with his brother.

“I just know that I love entertaining and that’s what we’ve been doing, man,” he said. “And I’ve had a ball doing it.”

The pair were inducted into the American Jazz Walk of Fame on July 2, joining the ranks of distinguished musicians such as Bobby Watson, Nina Simone and Quincy Jones. The two said the honor was “surreal” for them.

Lonnie McFadden said the event brought back memories of his early childhood.

“It made me realize that, for me to be standing there, which was probably 100 yards away from where my father grew up… where we did our first recital was right across the way at the YMCA,” Lonnie said. “It was very deep to me when I thought about everything, and the journey to get there.”

The brothers took a break from performing together before reuniting in 2022 at Lonnie’s Reno Club in the lower level of the Ambassador Hotel Kansas City.

Ronald said the break was necessary for him to spend more time with his family.

“I didn’t want to just do nightclubs all the time, because my daughters — they’re still in school,” he said. “That time in the evening that I would normally be out playing, I need to spend with them.”

Fans of the performer took to social media to send condolences and remember his legacy.

Though jazz’s role in Kansas City has evolved over the decades, McFadden leaves behind a scene that he told Up to Date is still very much alive.

“Now, you have a lot of young musicians out here playing that are really good,” McFadden said. “When Bobby Watson came back, that invited a whole new influx of musicians and we still have a pretty vibrant jazz scene.”

mcfadden bros.jfif

By qualifying Bebeto Castilho’s second solo album as a singer as “historic and sacred”, in a text written to present the album Amendoeira (2006), Caetano Veloso echoed common sense in a Brazilian musical niche about Adalberto José de Castilho e Souza (April 13 1939 – March 10, 2023).

Died last night at the age of 83, in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro (RJ), the victim of a sudden illness, the musician and singer from Rio de Janeiro, Bebeto Castilho, leaves work revered by fans of bossa and cool singing.

Castilho was a bissexto singer in Tamba Trio, a group in which he was bassist, flutist, saxophonist and eventual vocalist from 1962 to 1975 (and later in the trio’s returns, which took place between 1982 and 1984 and between 1989 and 1992).

In 1976, the artist released his first solo album, Bebeto, an LP in which he left the sophistication of subtle singing imprinted on the vinyl grooves, inserted on the disc as a harmonic element in the arrangement of the songs – a lesson learned from João Gilberto (1931 – 2019) – without exacerbations, vibratos and dramatizations.

Bebeto’s second solo album would come out only 30 years later, placing itself between samba-jazz and matrix bossa. It was the already mentioned Amendoeira, an orchestrated record with musical production by Marcelo Camelo, Bebeto’s nephew and composer of the samba-title Amendoeira.

Between one solo album and another, Bebeto accompanied as a versatile musician – with notorious skill in playing the saxophone, flute and double bass – artists of the caliber of Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, João Donato, MPB4, Nara Leão (1942 – 1989) and Sergio Mendes, among many others.

Before forming the Tamba Trio with pianist Luiz Eça (1936 – 1992) and drummer Hélcio Milito (1931 – 2014), Bebeto Castilho worked with pianist Ed Lincoln (1932 – 2012), with whom he entered the scene in 1955. .

The record debut took place in 1959, the year in which the label released Bossa é bossa, EP by the ephemeral Conjunto Bossa Nova, a sextet from Rio de Janeiro formed by Bebeto Castilho alongside names such as Roberto Menescal, Luiz Carlos Vinhas (1940 – 2001) and Hélcio Milito , future partner of the artist in Tamba Trio.

By suddenly leaving the scene last night, one month away from his 84th birthday, Bebeto Castilho leaves a historic and sacred legacy for those who knew how to appreciate the instrumentalist’s bossa and the singer’s subtleties.

Bebeto Castilho (1939 – 2023) em foto promocional do álbum 'Amendoeira', de 2006 — Foto: Divulgação

We mourn Helmut Forsthoff, a wonderful musician who has been closely associated with the Jazzkeller Treptow and Jazzkeller 69 e.V. since the beginning and who has been admired in countless concerts here with us. For the second half of the year there was just one more concert in preparation.
We asked the music critic and longtime jazz editor at rbbKultur Ulf Drechsel to write an obituary for Helmut:

It is strange. Almost at the same time I found out that Wayne Shorter and Helmut Forsthoff had died.
Shorter died on March 2nd at the age of 89, Helmut Forsthoff on February 26th. He was 78 years old.
Wayne Shorter’s health problems had been known for a long time, which is why his death was to be expected. Helmut Forsthoff, on the other hand, was recently on stage with his longtime friend Joe Sachse and had plans for his quartet with Gerhard Kubach, Denis Stilke and Paul Schwingenschlögl.

He was in no hurry to arrange concert dates (e.g. with Jazzkeller 69). Nothing urged him. The way he never pushed himself to the fore. Not on stage, not in a larger community.

Since the 1970s I have seen Helmut Forsthoff in a number of bands. With SOK, Klaus Lenz, Uschi Brüning, Manfred Schulze, in the Modern Soul Band, in the Jazz Orchestra of the GDR, in workshop bands by Luten Petrowsky, Hanno Rempel, Ulrich Gumpert.

Later he also played blues, stood on stage with Bajazzo or with Pascal von Wroblewsky’s band. He had a “big”, sometimes warm, sometimes biting tone on the tenor saxophone. Like Wayne Shorter in his prime. I don’t know if Helmut had a role model, but he never tried to hide the Coltrane line. Even if I didn’t know Helmut very well, or we were even friends, the news of his death touches me very much, because in all our encounters I always found him to be an extremely friendly person. Affectionate and sincere. When he asked how you were doing, he was actually interested in an honest answer. You don’t experience that every day “in the scene”.

Many people will miss Helmut Forsthoff. His family, his friends, colleagues. And I regret that I didn’t meet Helmut Forsthoff more often.

Helmut Forsthoff - Foto: Ingrid Hoberg

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