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Friday, June 04, 2010

A Jazzman’s Final Refuge - City Room Blog -

A Jazzman’s Final Refuge - City Room Blog -
Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times Manny Ramirez, Hank Jones’s former flatmate and landlord, in Mr. Jones’s old room.

Update: Corey Kilgannon, who wrote this post, responds to some of the criticisms made by readers. It is comment number 34.
Hank Jones, the legendary jazz pianist, led an oddly bifurcated existence toward the end of his 91 years on earth.
He stayed active till the very end, collecting a Grammy last year and touring the world. But when he wasn’t on the road, he lived in near isolation in a 12-by-12-foot room at 108th Street and Broadway, ordering in three meals a day from the diner downstairs and practicing incessantly on an electric keyboard plugged into headphones.
“He was worried he would bother the neighbors,” said Mr. Jones’s roommate and landlord, Manny Ramirez. “The neighbors would ask, ‘Why don’t we hear Hank anymore?’ I said, ‘He locks himself in his room all the time.’”
On Sunday, Mr. Jones died at a hospice in the Bronx, only a few weeks after returning from Japan. More...
Maybe this story is true but I question whether publishing it was in good taste. Every detail concerning someones personal life does not have to be fodder for the news media. We should all hope to live as long as Hank Jones and then to continue working, in our profession, as he did. It is of no consequence whether he became a hermit. He was over ninety.  He was still a working musician.  He practiced tirelessly.  Why is the New York Times engaging in voyeurism?

I have many fond memories of Mr. Jones performing.  I especially remember seeing him one night at Bradley's,  during the early 1980's.  After an exquisite set seeing Hank Jones sitting at a table, in the club, surrounded by a group of adoring mature women was priceless.   Hank Jones was a man of refinement a plain old good taste.

John H. Armwood

P.S. Go to the New York Times original article to see the controversy generated by this article.

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