Acclaimed jazz saxophonist and flutist Jeff Clayton has died after a protracted battle with cancer. He was 65 years old.
Per Mercury News, the cause of death was confirmed as complications from kidney cancer, with which he had struggled for over two years. He passed away December 17 in Los Angeles, his brother John and manager Gail Boyd confirmed.
In a statement, bassist John Clayton said, “I am sad but buoyed by Jeff’s spirit, by recalling six decades of growth together, by the music we shared, and the knowledge that he wants us to move on, embracing and celebrating life.” The two Clayton brothers had famously formed the Clayton Brothers Quintet in 1977, in addition to co-founding the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra alongside drummer Jeff Hamilton.
“Jeff was passionate about this music. His love, joy, perseverance and sense of humor attracted so many to him,” said Hamilton in a statement. “He had his own vision through his compositions that invited others to see that same vision. He leaves an irreplaceable void.”
Jeff Clayton’s prolific career saw him performing alongside such stars as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Madonna and the late Kenny Rogers. Notably, he also had a stint as part of the legendary Count Basie Orchestra under Basie and then Thad Jones. In 2018, Clayton released his first solo album, Listen Through the Looking Glass.
RIP, Jeff Clayton. Listen to his 2018 album here: