RIP Milt Abel

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by farmerdude, Feb 9, 2006.

  1. Posted on Mon, Feb. 06, 2006
    Bassist Milt Abel, a key player in KC jazz, dies at 77By JULIUS A. KARASHThe Kansas City StarThe Kansas City jazz world lost another seminal figure with the death Friday night of bass player Milt Abel, aged 77.
    Abel and his first wife, Bettye Miller, entertained Kansas City audiences for many years at the old Horseshoe Lounge on Troost Avenue near East Linwood Boulevard. They also toured nationally and were featured at the Newport Jazz Festival in the 1960s, jazz historian Chuck Haddix said Sunday.
    “Milt was a longtime stalwart here in Kansas City,” Haddix said. “Kansas City has a tradition of strong bass players going back to Walter Page, and he was part of that tradition.”
    Abel, who also was known for his spirited singing, continued to perform after Miller died in 1977. In May he was one of seven local musicians awarded Lifetime Achievement in Jazz awards during a concert to benefit the Coda Jazz Fund, which raises money to help provide proper funerals and burials for needy jazz musicians.
    Mike Metheny, a Kansas City jazz musician and former editor of Jam magazine, recalled Abel’s renditions of “Big Noise from Winnetka” at jam sessions held over the years at the Metheny family home in Lee’s Summit.
    “It was always the height of every jam session because he was the one and only Milt Abel,” Metheny said. “Nobody could do it like Milt. All the love and warmth and great musical talent would always come through.”
    Besides winning the devotion of many fans, Abel earned the respect of his fellow jazz musicians, Metheny added. “When people like Milt pass on, their shoes are not going to ever be filled.”
    Linda Abel, whom Abel married in 1980, said her love for the music of Milt Abel and Bettye Miller helped her decide to move from Carthage, Mo., to Kansas City in 1967, when she was 19.
    “I was never a groupie,” Linda Abel said. “I wasn’t legally able to go to clubs at that time. But I would follow them at the festivals they appeared at. They radiated so much love for one another in their music and were such class-act musicians. They had such an elegance and such a love affair.”
    The child of a poor family in Philadelphia, Milt Abel taught himself to play the bass with the help of an older brother. As a young man he served in the Army for a few years at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. From there he would visit Kansas City jazz clubs on the weekend.
    “He fell in love with Kansas City and the people, this community,” Linda Abel said.


    Coming up
    ■ There will be a traditional jazz wake and jam session for Milt Abel beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday at Watkins Bros. Memorial Chapel, 4000 E. Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. It will be open to the public.
    ■ Abel’s funeral will be 4 p.m. Friday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 6401 Wornall Terrace.
  2. Wow! I can't believe it! Milt was such a great influence & good friend when I was in KC! Goodbye Milt, I'll never forget you