Lew Soloff, the trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer who performed with Blood Sweat & Tears at the band’s earliest incarnation, passed away yesterday. He was 71 years old. He suffered a heart attack on Saturday night in New York City.
Born in Brooklyn in 1940, Soloff was raised in Lakewood, New Jersey and took up the piano at an early age. He started playing trumpet at age 10, inspired by the Roy Eldridge and Louis Armstrong records in the collections of his grandfather and uncle. He studied at the Julliard School and Eastman School of Music before joining the fertile New York jazz scene in the mid-1960s.
Beginning his career playing with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer Machito, and Joe Henderson, Soloff spent more than five decades playing in multiple contexts–as a soloist, studio musician, and member of ensembles of all types–and genres. Of particular note are his more than 20 year association with legendary arranger and pianist Gil Evans and his five years as a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears–including playing on their landmark self-titled album. Soloff also played with Ornette Coleman, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Carla Bley, and John Mayall, among many, many others. He was also a founding member of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet.
Soloff had regularly toured Europe and Japan and remained active in the New York jazz scene up until his death. His family will conduct a private funeral service this week and will announce details about a public memorial and celebration of his life and career in the coming days.