- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Alvin Batiste, a jazz clarinetist who toured with Ray Charles, recorded with Branford Marsalis and taught pianist Henry Butler, died yesterday of an apparent heart attack, just hours before he was to perform with Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, festival officials said. He was 74.

Mr. Marsalis’ record label released Mr. Batiste’s latest CD, “Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste,” a few weeks ago. Mr. Marsalis also played on the album.

Mr. Batiste was born in New Orleans and was considered one of the founders of the modern jazz scene there. He also wrote for and toured with Billy Cobham and Cannonball Adderley.

A longtime teacher at Southern University in Baton Rouge, he created the Batiste Jazz Institute — one of the first programs of its kind in the nation — and was teaching jazz at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts at the time of his death. His students included Branford Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Kent Jordan, Michael Ward, Herlin Riley, Charlie Singleton and Woodie Douglas.

“He was not only a teacher, he was my father away from home,” pianist Mr. Butler said. “He taught us about music, the history of music and the business of music. The ones who had the benefit of learning from him are better musicians and better people today.”

Mr. Batiste toured with Mr. Charles in 1958 but remained largely unknown to the public until he recorded with Clarinet Summit in the 1980s. The quartet also including John Carter, David Murray and Jimmy Hamilton.

A show at the jazz tent of the festival — “Marsalis Music honors Alvin Batiste & Bob French” — was scheduled for yesterday afternoon.

“The show will go on,” festival spokesman Matthew Goldman said. “Branford will play the entire show.”

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