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‘Creole Beethoven’ composer, arranger dead at 81
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“He took something that was so Professor Longhair, so rowdy, and married it with some very interesting extreme jazz parts and horn licks in the middle of that, and it sounded like a perfect marriage,” Toussaint said.
Quezergue’s Creole Mass was produced by hotelier Bubby Valentino, who happened to be present when Quezergue finished it. He said they were both outside a studio where a session being produced by Quezergue was winding up. Quezergue “put a sheet of music paper on top of a stack that was 6 inches tall and he said, `My promise is fulfilled,’ and he started weeping.”
He told Valentino that he and his unit was heading to the airport and the Korean front when Quezergue was taken from the convoy and told he was needed as an arranger. His replacement was killed during his first week in Korea, and Quezergue vowed to write a thanksgiving Mass, Valentino said.
“It took him 50 years to write and rewrite before he thought it was worthy of the promise he had made,” Valentino said.
Shortly before Quezergue’s death, he finished recording the Passion, for narrator, instrumentalists, soloists and small chorus. That nearly-finished CD and two before it _ “After the Math” and “Music For Children Ages 3 to 103” _ were underwritten by The Jazz Foundation, a New York-based foundation created to help jazz and blues musicians, general manager Petr Verner said.
“From the classic to the most mundane funky music, he was right at home,” Toussaint said. “Just drop him off on Planet Music and he was fine. Anywhere.”
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