Bassist Gary Peacock dead at 85

The acclaimed improviser played with Bill Evans, Albert Ayler and more.

Jazz bassist Gary Peacock has died. He was 85 years old.

Peacock’s family confirmed to NPR that he had died peacefully at his home in upstate New York on September 4. The label ECM—which had released a number of Peacock’s recordings—issued a separate statement on September 7 confirming his passing.

“I’ve lost a life-long friend, and a musician whom I had admired greatly since the first time I heard him,” wrote ECM founder Manfred Eicher. “We were so pleased and proud to be able to feature him so early in our programme.

“Along with Scott La Faro, Steve Swallow and Charlie Haden, Gary was one of the bassists I most appreciated, and I loved his playing on Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity and Bill Evans’s Trio ‘64. We started working together more closely with Tales of Another, in retrospect an influential album. It laid the groundwork for one of the longest-lasting groups in jazz…”

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Read ECM’s obituary of Peacock below:

Gary Peacock (1935-2020)Bassist Gary Peacock has died, aged 85. An inspired contributor to music over the last…

Posted by ECM Records on Monday, September 7, 2020

Peacock was born in Burley, Idaho, and grew up in Yakima, Washington. He picked up the double bass at the age of 20 after studying piano, vibraphone and the drums. He participated in jam sessions in clubs around Germany while stationed there with the US army, and after a stint in California, moved to New York by the 1960s.

Peacock went on to play as a member of Bill Evans’ trio, and with free jazz artist Albert Ayler, who influenced Peacock greatly as an improviser. After spending a few years in Japan, Peacock returned to the United States in the early ’70s and formed a prolific trio with pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette. He also played with longtime collaborator Paul Bley, pianist Marc Copland and drummer Paul Motian.

RIP, Gary Peacock. Stream his 1983 Standards, Vol 2 album, recorded with Jarrett and DeJohnette:

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