Terry Callier: A Truly Spiritual Singer Gone
In terms of recent musician deaths, the late Dave Brubeck received a lot of attention, deservedly, although I wonder what his legacy would have been without the benefit of Paul Desmond as his creative collaborator.
For me, though, it was the passing of Chicago native Terry Callier this fall that saddened me most. I discovered him through his late career resurgence as the favored soul singer of the 1990s "acid jazz" revival in London. Let me just say they had very good taste. Spurred on by this attention he released, after many years away from recording, a masterpiece called Timepeace. Writing at AllMusic, Jason Ankeny nails it:
"Long ago tagged with the label "folk-jazz," Callier's music eludes easy description; cosmic and spiritual, it also bears the influence of gospel and soul, yet synthesizes its disparate elements in unprecedented and breathtaking ways."
Callier exuded a sense that life is a very special thing, whose true meaning music and the human voice can only begin to communicate, yet which somehow came through in his expression. He was a soul singer insofar as he communicated great feelings of wonderment and gratitude and a grand perspective. I guess I'm trying to say his music really was a spiritual thing.
Part of his power, I think, came from the fact that music wasn't everything to him. He left the music business in the 80s to raise his family and work a regular job at the University of Chicago. Life was everything to him, and now he is gone. Check him out. Listen and learn.
Here's the AllMusic page.
Here's the NYT obit.