The American Jazz Museum is reporting the death of musician Horace Washington, 62, posting this today on the museum's Facebook page: “The Board and Staff of the American Jazz Museum are saddened to pass along the news that HORACE WASHINGTON has passed away.”
Washington, a saxophonist and flute player who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., had been dealing with some health issues for the past couple of years, says Chris Burnett, marketing and communications manager for the museum.
“He was the sort of person who didn’t want to worry you,” says Burnett. “He would ask how you were doing.”
Washington’s death was reportedly discovered when he didn’t show up for a scheduled gig, which, as Burnett puts it, was unlike him.
“He’s been a great asset and a mentor to a lot of the younger musicians,” Burnett says. “He was just a great presence.”
Washington had performed just days before at the Blue Room with the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz.
"Horace was an original and respected elder statesman. He was the master of all reeds, but preferred the flute, an instrument that is not widely played in jazz," says Chuck Haddix, director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and host of The Fish Fry on KCUR. "He was also a bridge from the previous generation to the present generation."
A versatile musician and bandleader, Washington played soprano, alto, baritone, and tenor saxophones. He said he also learned to play the flute in high school so he could sit close to the girls in the orchestra, according to a profile published earlier this summer in Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors.
Find out more about Horace Washington's life and work in this 2011 short documentary, directed by David Berry: