June 20, 2024

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A Celebration of Life is planned for bay area jazz drummer Pat Close, dies at 67: Video, Photos

A Celebration of Life is planned for bay area jazz drummer Pat Close.

The Ohio-born musician, who had lived in the Clearwater area since 1988, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer Oct. 20, a few days after his 67th birthday.

Along with Close’s daughter Leah – one of his three adult children – the Celebration of Life is being organized by his longtime companion, saxophonist/singer Peggy Morris. It will take place at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo.

Although Close was an integral part of Tampa Bay’s extended jazz family, no musical performances are planned for the Largo event. “We decided to keep it really simple, and just celebrate and remember PC,” Morris said.

A member of the Professional Drum Teachers Guild, Close was on the faculty at Clearwater’s Players School of Music. He performed often on both sides of the bay, with various ensembles, and was a mainstay at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and other festivals. In 2017, he wrote and recorded the CD Rhythms of My Soul, on which he collaborated with seven different bass players.

Close wrote a column that year in Bass Player magazine:

Most musicians can tell if you are just a drummer, or a more in tune melodic drummer, just by playing with you for 16 bars. As a melodic drummer you are more sensitive to arrangement, dynamics for sure, and just connecting with others without having to talk it out. When that happens we all just grin, look at each other and just know that we are on another level. If you have never experienced this while playing, it’s probably because you are only focusing on YOU, just your playing, or how you sound.

You must be able to take positive constructive views from other musicians and producers, for example, without getting all bent out of shape. Always be professional, courteous and respectful. This goes a long way when working with many different musicians in different settings.

“He’s a good heart, a good soul,” said Peggy Morris, Close’s companion of 18 years. “His music and his children, those were the most important things to him.”

Morris was a fellow Ohioan who was acquainted with Close – she knew him as a monster musician – in the Cleveland area. When she moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2005, she was newly divorced, as was he. They reconnected.

They were a couple for 18 years and often performed and recorded together.

“He’s the best musician I ever played with,” Morris said. “He might have perfect pitch, I don’t know, but he definitely has relative pitch. He can just tell me, if I was singing the wrong note, he would tell me – he just could hear it. ‘I would sing this note.’

“Especially in the studio, he was really good in there. Really good at writing bass lines. When he was working on his CD, all the different bass players just loved his ideas.”

When Close’s illness was made public, in the spring of 2022, dozens of his musician friends organized a benefit concert, “Give the Drummer Some,” to help defray his medical expenses. “We couldn’t be there,” Morris recalled, “because Pat’s white blood cell count was really, really low. And he really wanted to go, but the doctor says ‘There’s no way you’re gonna go to that.’

“It was hard, but people sent us a video, so we got to see it. That really touched both of our hearts.”

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