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Ethereal Souls: Jazz Night In America Remembers Those We Lost In 2020

One unique aspect of jazz is that it never stops honoring the musicians who've shaped its sound. In 2020, more than 40 of those voices were silenced, and Jazz Night In America felt the need to acknowledge their loss with an original artistic gesture.

We chose an artist deeply attuned to the music's legacy — Grammy-winning trumpeter Keyon Harrold — and a symbolic meeting place — the brownstone stoop. More precisely, our small video team met Harrold on a frigid December evening at Socrates Sculpture Garden in Queens, where Fontaine Capel's Proposals for a Monument evokes the communal yet often contemplative space that a stoop can be (and the specter of an iconic image, colloquially known as A Great Day in Harlem).

Playing trumpet in the cold is no small feat; the tuning of the metal instrument shifts as the temperature falls. Harrold had to adjust to these changes in real time as he performed his poignant ballad "Ethereal Souls." But he was undaunted, buoyed by the constant encouragement of his son, Keyon Jr. — another reminder of the lineage embodied in this music, and an unseen force behind this hauntingly beautiful performance.

UPDATE: Jazz Night in America included all the jazz musicians who had passed away up to the time of this video's publishing on Dec. 17, 2020. We would also like to acknowledge the deaths of Stanley Cowell, pianist and composer; Dianne Moser, pianist and educator; Jeff Clayton, saxophonist and flutist.

Click here to listen to our Jazz Night In America radio episode, as we celebrate 10 musicians whose lives and contributions altered the shape of jazz: Jimmy Heath; Lee Konitz; Cándido Camero; Tony Allen; Annie Ross; Freddy Cole; Gary Peacock; Henry Grimes; Wallace Roney; and McCoy Tyner..

Copyright 2021 WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center. To see more, visit WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center.