Andy McGhee, R.I.P., 1927-2017

Andy McGhee
Andy McGhee

Andy McGhee was a household name in the world of jazz education, but Berklee’s gain meant that Andy remained one of the least-known and most under-recorded tenor masters of the past half-century. Why, even his name is subsumed under a colleague’s in this 2006 performance of “Body and Soul.”

McGhee, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, and graduate of New England Conservatory, played on the bands of Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, and briefly with Count Basie, before joining the Berklee faculty in 1966. His protégés include the tenor players Bill Pierce and Javon Jackson, both of whom double as jazz educators, and countless players plying their trade as jazz artists.

I’ll treasure the memory of seeing Andy a few times in Boston, and we’ll be playing from his excellent, though super-rare album, Could It Be, over the next week on NEPR. Andy McGhee died on October 12, a few weeks before his 90th birthday on November 3.

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