Pianist Junior Mance, a frequent collaborator of Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Guy, Etta Jones and Dinah Washington, died on January 17 at the age of 92 in his Manhattan home.
As the New York Times reports, Mance’s death was confirmed by his wife Gloria Clayborne Mance. She revealed that he had Alzheimer’s disease and his death was due to a brain hemorrhage caused by a fall in December.
While jazz was at the core of Mance’s career, the Illinois-born musician had a passion for the blues that manifested in his lively playing style. Mance found his start in the ’40s playing alongside Cannonball Adderley in the Fort Knox band while drafted in the army. Adderley ultimately spared Mance from being shipped off to Korea, where the bulk of his comrades in his company died in an ambush.
In the ’50s, Mance continued to perform alongside Adderley before playing with Washington and ultimately joining Gillespie’s group in 1958. Following rave reviews of the pianist’s nimble playing, Mance stepped into Aretha Franklin, Dexter Gordon and Guy’s bands over the years.
As a bandleader, Mance delivered his eponymous debut Junior in 1959 and consistently released albums up until retiring after the 2015 release of his final LP For My Fans, it’s All About You. He also served as a music educator in the Bachelor of Fine Arts jazz program at New York City’s The New School for over two decades, retiring in 2011.
RIP, Junior Mance. Listen to For My Fans, it’s All About You: