Lew Soloff… Tragic loss for music, irrecoupable loss for trumpet
2:48 am, I get a call from Marcus Printup.
“Man, Lew died.”
“Soloff. I think it’s true.”
Tragic loss for music, irrecoupable loss for trumpet. First Wilmer, then CT and now Lew. Damn! All I can think about is how is Jon Faddis handling this? They had the deepest personal and collegial relationship full of mutual respect, admiration and love. And each set a higher standard for our instrument, but together!……it was otherworldly. Both Lew and Jon have always treated me with so I much love and support for which I AM ALWAYS GRATEFUL!
Lew helped so many of us on so many levels there are no words. Always inquisitive, absolutely supportive, thorough musicianship in all styles of music: rock, jazz, classical, Afro-Latin. Musicians of all styles loved him and benefitted from his playing and spirit. He was an unapologetic foodie and lover and supporter of young trumpeters. Lew was always,“Man…have you heard?” Then a string of superlatives about their playing. He had a way of looking at you when he listened to you playing that made it seem like he was playing too. He elevated the lead chair in our Orchestra for 6 years and every rehearsal and concert was an absolute joy.
The last conversation I had with Lew was at CT’s memorial last Saturday. He was standing next to Jimmy Owens and said, “Man, I want to get with you about playing Blues Symphony. I’m playing the trumpet part with the American Composer’s Orchestra.” I looked at him as if to say, “C’mon Lew I can’t tell you shit about playing nothing.” He looked at Jimmy and said, “No man, we play music and the composers are usually dead. I want to hear from a live one.” We just looked at each other and said we’d get together, and the elevator doors closed.
One final thought for now on Lew is his oft heard quote. “Which one of these mouthpieces sounds better?” “They all sounded great Lew.” This is a true loss.
Our trumpet section is sitting at breakfast now trading so many funny stories about Lew. We all played at CT’s memorial, in the church and outside in the freezing cold. This is another type of frost. We have all just spoken to Jon and shared our collective grief. We are posting something we remember about Lew here. I encourage all musicians to do the same so we can give the record to his family.
Lew Soloff probably loved the trumpet more than any person on earth.