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R.I.P. Dennis Irwin

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by milomo, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. milomo


    Aug 5, 2007
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Unfortunately this time it's for real. On Monday the 10th at 3:30 PM in New York, Dennis Irwin passed away after a valiant fight against cancer. To quote my friend, saxophonist Andy Farber, "I was proud to know him and privileged to work with him". That's a lovely sentence, and it sums up my feelings about Dennis perfectly. Dennis was one in a million, both on and off the bandstand, and my life, and the lives of the many people who heard him and knew him, will never be the same.
  2. Blaine


    Aug 4, 2001
    new york area
    i just got back from the vanguard and from small's and yes it's true.
    dennis was incredibly warm and supportive when i moved here in the 80's. thanks dennis. you'll be missed.
  3. oscar pettiford

    oscar pettiford

    Jun 28, 2007
    very sad to hear this news .... A truly wonderful musician , bass player and one of the nicest guys i've ever met .
    ..i'm fortunate to have spent some time with him , I will treasure those memories ....

    ...thanks for the music Dennis , ....you will be missed .

    rest in peace Dennis ,

    james sked , Australia
  4. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    RIP dennis, thanks for the beautiful bass playing.
  5. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    Here's a really nice tribute video.

  6. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    A big, big loss of a terrific player and super nice man.
  7. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    From today's paper.


    Dennis Irwin, 56, Bassist Popular in New York Jazz, Is Dead

    Published: March 12, 2008

    Dennis Irwin, who for more than 30 years was a much-in-demand New York jazz bassist and whose recent illness became a rallying point for jazz musicians without medical insurance, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 56.

    The cause was liver failure as a result of cancer, said his son, Michael Irwin.

    He died the same day as a benefit concert was presented in his honor, staged by Jazz at Lincoln Center and including performances by Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Jon Hendricks, Mose Allison, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, and many others. Part of the concert’s proceeds will go toward Mr. Irwin’s medical expenses. The rest, in line with his stated wishes, will go to other musicians in need, through the Jazz Foundation of America, which has helped many uninsured musicians — including Mr. Irwin — pay for healthcare.

    Two New York City jazz-club benefits in February, one at Smalls and one at the Village Vanguard, also raised money for Mr. Irwin’s living expenses and for alternative cancer treatment.

    Mr. Irwin’s swing was deep and dependable, and he played on more than 500 albums. Since the early 1980s, he had performed almost every Monday night with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard.

    Born in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Irwin attended North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) as a classical musician studying the clarinet, switching to jazz and the bass during college. In 1973, while still in school, he got a job as a bassist playing with the pianist Red Garland; he moved to New York in 1974 without graduating and quickly found work with Ted Curson, Betty Carter and Mr. Allison, among others. In 1977 he began a three-year stint in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

    In more recent years, he played in bands led by Johnny Griffin, Mr. Lovano, Mr. Scofield and Matt Wilson.

    His case has already brought help to uninsured musicians. Michael Pietrowicz, vice president for planning and program development at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, N.J., said in an interview on Tuesday that the hospital, in conjunction with the Jazz Foundation of America, would create the Dennis Irwin Memorial Fund, making free cancer screenings available to veteran jazz and blues musicians who are uninsured. (Mr. Irwin was initially evaluated and treated for cancer at the hospital late last year.) And Adrian Ellis, executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said Tuesday that the organization would produce an annual concert to benefit jazz musicians in need.

    Besides his son, Michael, of Manhattan, Mr. Irwin is survived by his companion, Aria Hendricks; his brother, David Irwin, and his mother, Daisy Godbold, both of St. Petersburg, Fla.; and his father, David E. Irwin of Monticello, Ga.
  8. Standalone,

    I read the Times piece this morning and immediately headed for my music room, where I did some walking in his memory.

    Thanks, Dennis, for the music and the memories.

    Play on.
  9. storme37


    Mar 9, 2008
    this guy seemed like a really nice guy and a fantastic musician. god bless him.
  10. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Dennis was without a doubt the kindest and most genuine person I ever met. I had the pleasure of studying with him and I will sorely miss him as a person and a musician. The jazz world will not be the same without him. Rest in peace my friend and teacher.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I heard Tuesday night when Dan came to the session; I hate that this kind of thing can happen to ANYBODY that doesn't have access to health care. But to have it happen to somebody I know and respect; somebody, that for the grace of Deity and the fact that I work a day job with benefits, coulda been me (or any of us here), that's just heartbreaking.

    This didn't have to happen and, while it's great that there is all of this energy galvanized towards helping/coming up with a solution, why didn't it happen when it could have helped Dennis? I dunno, I'm just really drug and angry.
  12. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Dennis will be missed. His life touched many, many people. Well done!
  13. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    Being at the musikmesse in Frankfurt for the all week without net i just read the news here, im sad and shocked.... although i never met him, everybody that i talked to that met him said he was a wonderful person, as a bass player, what can be said, great sound, great lines, great musician.
    Im shocked that every week/month, whatever, there's always benefits shows and other things to help professional jazz musicans because they dont have health insurance.... im shocked that the USA spend billions everyday with military trying to be the cops of the universe while they let their own people/artists dying without health care. wouldnt it be the time for the USA as a great country to take care of their own people and leave the others alone?
    who will be the next in the list? when will it be the next benefit show?
    sorry guys, this is just too sad.
    R.I.P Dennis

  14. R.I.P. Dennis :(
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Phil Rowan and Earl like this.
  16. isolated

    isolated Zenji Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Bronx, NY
    Since the anniversary of his passing approaches, I thought I'd post this here rather than start a new thread.

    I was trying to find some pleasant music to drown out my irritating co-workers here at the day gig, and Mel Lewis came to mind. That's how I found this gem.

    Dennis with Mel's band in 1982, and swingin' the holy living hell out of everything. Not a whole lot of people left with a beat like that.

    Added bonus of Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Jim McNeely, and Dick Oates in their early-80's band uniforms.
    dhm, oliebrice, Earl and 2 others like this.
  17. ctrlzjones


    Jul 11, 2013
    there is now another and longer tribute on YT by Neal Miner, talking about the encounter with Dennis' bass ...

  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Look! That there's Mike Karn!
  19. dhm


    Apr 15, 2007
    Here's almost an hour of greatness!
    Phil Rowan likes this.
  20. Question: What did Dennis Irwin's D-string say to his G-string?
    Answer (with apologies to Annie Hall): Are you sure we can walk to the fingerboard from here?

    Check out the string height on that bass. Great sound and interesting right hand technique.

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