Hard to believe now, but there was a time I took a break from actively playing bass – and especially jazz. My former bandmate/writing partner left the US permanently to move back to where he was from. We’re still friends but it took the wind out of my sails for awhile. At this point I set my focus elsewhere and I was doing things like the Rush tribute band Phantom Fears.
Like anything else in life that you mourn, at some point you start to move on. When I got the bug to play jazz again, I saw an ad on Craigslist looking for jazz musicians. It was posted by Jack Morash. Nearly 20 years later, Jack and still played together. We had a sympatico as bassist and drummer. There are things that he and I just instinctively could do that I have not easily replicated with others. That is no slight on any other drummer I did and will continue to play with. When you play so long with someone, sometimes you just develop an unspoken language. It’s one of the beautiful things about playing music.
He graciously played all the drums on my last album Moving Forward and was so worried about not screwing things up. The irony? Jack nailed most tunes in a single take which is pretty amazing. Here is a picture of Jack in the studio during the recording sessions. The JM drum head on his bass drum is something I got him for his birthday a few years back. They’ve been on his drums ever since.
We were supposed to play tonight in what should have been another Monday night at Keystone.
Jack passed away today. He just turned 67 this past August 27.
I will miss his cameraderie, his drumming, and most importantly, his friendship. He was one of the most genuine and loyal people you would have ever met. He encouraged others and helped make them better. More importantly, Jack was a very close friend and we shared lots of life’s ups and downs through the years. I do not hesitate to say I wouldn’t be where I am today in some ways without meeting Jack, and for that I am forever indebted to him. I am glad he recorded the drums for Moving Forward as I have a proper document of our playing relationship.
Jack brought together a whole community of people (many of them musicians) from all walks of life who would have otherwise never met. Many of us still play together in various splinter groups and situations. We owe him a debt of gratitude. I am not sure he saw it that way or knew how much it meant to all of us. I hope he did.
If you know anyone struggling, please let them know you care. Never assume anyone is okay. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone or get help.
Also, even if someone is not struggling, let them know you care about them. It does not make you weak to acknowledge how much they mean to you.
Here’s a video (shot by Ken Willinger) of Jack (drums), Ken Willinger (guitar), Larry Gelberg (tenor sax), and myself playing the Jobim tune “Dindi” nearly three years ago on October 11, 2020, at the Needham Farmer’s Market. Jack loved Latin tunes. I’ve always loved this performance and Jack takes some nice solo breaks.
Rest in peace, my rhythm section brother from another mother.