Jazz bassist Eugene Wright has died. He was 97.
Wright was the last surviving member of the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet’s classic line-up. He toured with Brubeck’s band for the US Department of State across Europe and Asia in 1958, before formally joining the group a year later. During his tenure with the band, Wright helped record jazz’s best-selling single of all time, “Take Five,” in 1959.
Brubeck’s estate shared the news of Wright’s passing on Twitter on New Year’s Day, saying they were “deeply saddened” to learn about Wright’s passing, and that he “remained a good friend and honorary Uncle to the Brubeck family to the end.”
Brubeck and Wright forged a creative bond that extended past their time in the quartet, which saw them perform in Moscow at the behest of US President Ronald Reagan during some of the Cold War’s tensest moments. Wright left Brubeck in the late-’60s and went on to form his own ensemble. Aside from his work with Brubeck, Wright also recorded and performed with jazz and soul luminaries Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday, Vince Guaraldi and Paul Desmond, among many others.
During the later parts of his career, Wright helped shape the subsequent generation of Ohio musicians as head of the jazz department at the University of Cincinnati and the International Society of Bassists.
RIP, Eugene Wright. Listen to his 1962 solo album The Wright Groove here: