WILTON FELDER, SAXOPHONIST FOR THE CRUSADERS
OCT. 3, 2015
Wilton Felder, who for many years had a successful dual musical career, playing tenor saxophone with the Crusaders and moonlighting as a busy session bass player on records by the Jackson 5 and others, died on Sept. 27 at his home in Whittier, Calif. He was 75.
The cause was myeloma, his son, Wilton Jr., said.
Mr. Felder was a founding member of the Jazz Crusaders, which later became the Crusaders as its sound evolved from hard bop, a driving variation on bebop, to jazz-funk. The group was formed in Houston when Mr. Felder, the pianist Joe Sample and the drummer Nesbert Hooper, better known by the nickname Stix, were teenagers.
Initially called the Swingsters, the group later added the trombonist Wayne Henderson, the flutist Hubert Laws and the bassist Harry Wilson. Mr. Felder, Mr. Sample, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson left Houston in the late 1950s for more promising career prospects in Los Angeles and began calling themselves the Jazz Crusaders.
“I remember the way each of us played and made our sound unique,” Mr. Felder told The Virginian-Pilot in 2006. “There was individual playing within the context of a band. We were a unit with each piece of the puzzle standing out.”
The Jazz Crusaders were one of the more successful jazz groups of the 1960s, when they recorded more than a dozen albums, starting with “Freedom Sound” in 1961. The group’s repertoire included compositions by Mr. Felder.
In an attempt to broaden their audience, the Crusaders dropped the word “jazz” from their name in the early 1970s and added an electric guitar, with Mr. Sample switching his focus to electric piano. (They had already begun moving in a more pop-oriented direction, recording cover versions of hits like the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.”) As the Crusaders, they opened for the Rolling Stones on tour in 1975 and had a Top 40 pop hit in 1979 with “Street Life,” a catchy funk tune with a vocal by Randy Crawford.
“At their best, the Crusaders create a mellow, finger-popping mood,” Robert Palmer wrote in The New York Times in 1977. “Although their sound is less adrenal than that of most jazz-rock groups, they do retain a certain visceral intensity, especially in Mr. Felder’s raw, preaching saxophone solos.”
Mr. Felder also played electric bass with a wide range of musicians, among them Billy Joel, B. B. King, Joni Mitchell, Joe Cocker, Randy Newman and Steely Dan. He took part in numerous sessions for Motown, including the one that produced the Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back,” which topped the Billboard pop chart in 1970.
Born in Houston on Aug. 31, 1940, Wilton Lewis Felder grew up listening to jazz, blues and country music. He took up the alto saxophone before he turned 10. He had become seriously ill, his son said, and his brother Owen, who played the saxophone, got him one to lift his spirits. He practiced constantly while attending Phillis Wheatley High School, and then studied music at Texas Christian University.
He told The Times in a 1981 article that he developed a big sound out of necessity.
“Most Texas saxophonists used to play in clubs where you didn’t have microphones, and after the early 1940s there were usually electric guitarists who played with their amplifiers turned way up,” Mr. Felder said. “So if you were playing saxophone, in order to be heard, you got a big steel mouthpiece and a hard reed. And you learned to play strong.”
The Crusaders broke up in the 1980s, though they reunited and performed together in different incarnations over the years. Mr. Felder also released a number of solo albums, starting with “Bullitt” in 1969. His most recent was “Let’s Spend Some Time” in 2005.
In addition to his son, Mr. Felder is survived by three sisters, Clara Walker, Jean Foster and Rozelia Gilliam; two daughters, Michelle LeBlanc and Deborah Clark; seven grandchildren; and his wife, the former Geraldine Hooper, sister of his longtime bandmate Stix Hooper.
What an outstanding song. A song for all ages, times, places, and eras.
Mr. Felder was a great musician and his and The Crusaders work with Ms. Randy Crawfored was pure beauty and genius.
He will be missed.
Here is my preferred version of Street Life:
Rest in peace, Mr. Wilton Felder.
Rest in peace.
DON EDWARDS, WHO CHAMPIONED CIVIL RIGHTS DURING 32 YEARS IN CONGRESS
Oct. 2, 2015, 4:59 PM – WASHINGTON
Don Edwards, a longtime liberal Democratic icon from San Jose who distinguished himself fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged and opposing the Vietnam War, died Thursday, 20 years after he retired from Congress. He was 100.
His death was confirmed by his son, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Len Edwards.
During 32 years in Congress, Edwards became known as the dean of the California delegation and a champion of civil and constitutional rights. Admirers called him “the conscience of Congress.”
Early on, he played a key role in convincing Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson.
“It’s hard for some of you to remember… When I arrived [in Congress], black people couldn’t vote in large parts of the country, and if they did, they’d get hanged,” Edwards told supporters when he retired in 1995.
He also served on the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate crisis that forced President Richard Nixon to resign.
He was one of the first lawmakers to oppose the nation’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War. Later, he would oppose the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, and he tried to stop the U.S. from going to war in the Persian Gulf in 1991.
In criticizing President George H.W. Bush’s war on drugs in 1990, Edwards said, “In a free society, values are not imposed by wholesale arrests and imprisonment of minor offenders.”
In 2003, he was awarded the Congressional Distinguished Service Award for serving his constituents and America with “extraordinary distinction and selfless dedication.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), who succeeded Edwards in Congress, said he will be remembered for a life of service to California and the country.
“His contributions will live on for many generations through the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, through his stalwart defense of the Constitution, his profound dedication to civil rights, his tireless advocacy for the rights of women as the ‘Father of the Equal Rights Amendment,’ and his lifelong efforts for a peaceful world,” Lofgren wrote on Facebook.
William Donlon Edwards was born in San Jose on Jan. 6, 1915. He attended San Jose public schools and earned degrees from Stanford University and Stanford Law School.
He began his career as an FBI agent but joined the Navy in the early 1940s and served as an intelligence and gunnery officer. After the war, he made his money in the insurance business.
He married three times and had three sons. His third wife, Edith Wilkie, died in 2011.
Edwards began his political career as a Republican and was elected president of the California Young Republicans in 1950. But he had switched parties by the time he was first elected to the House in 1962.
Shortly after he arrived in Washington, he joined a small group of lawmakers who tried to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which had ruined numerous careers in misguided investigations of alleged Communist sympathizers.
“I’d only been there a few days,” Edwards said proudly in 1995, recalling the 1963 vote. “The whole room just stopped. The whole room.”
In 1967, as antiwar protests roiled the nation, he voted against making flag burning a federal crime. He would go on to oppose efforts to introduce prayer in public schools, to ban abortions, and to end school busing to integrate schools. He was arrested in a protest of South African apartheid.
“He has been willing to work with most conservative Republicans, people who have disagreed with him on every ideological issue, to try and create a California agenda,” Howard Berman, then a California congressman, told The Times in 1994. “He has never let his ideology undermine his commitment to California.”
In January, Edwards celebrated his 100th birthday with chocolate cake and ice cream, and was in good spirits despite being nearly deaf and blind, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
“The world works better when we get along, and that’s what we owe everybody,” Edwards told the newspaper in 2003.
NEWARK — On July 12, 1967, Robert Curvin stood outside Newark’s 4th Precinct headquarters, bullhorn firmly in hand.
Credit Bettmann/Corbis Inside the building was John Smith, a cab driver still clinging to life after being arrested and beaten by police, drawing throngs of city residents ready to explode after decades of mistreatment and racial tension. Curvin pleaded for peace, but it was not to be.
The incident marked the beginning of five days of civil unrest — riots to some, a rebellion for others — that forever changed the course of Newark, and cast a pall over the city from which it is still working to emerge.
That Curvin, who died Tuesday at 81 after a lengthy illness, stood center stage in such a seminal event came as little surprise to those that knew him. An iconic activist, he was among the city’s early leaders in the civil rights movement, serving as national vice chair and Newark chapter head for the Congress of Racial Equality, one of the major organizations credited with bringing issues of racial equality to the fore in the 1950s.
“He’s a legend as it relates to civil rights here in Newark,” said Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex). “Those of us from back in those days, we haven’t really forgotten where we come from and how much had to be done. He was one of those people, up until his demise, that recognized there’s still a lot to be done.”
In the years following the 1967 uprising, Curvin played a pivotal role in the city’s political arena, working as a trusted advisor to its first black mayor, Kenneth Gibson, in 1970. Though he never accepted a city job, he also proved a valuable resource for Gibson’s successor, Sharpe James.
“He knew everybody. Everybody knew him,” said James. “He was a walking encyclopedia about where Newark’s been, where we are today and where we are going.”
Though he may have had the ear of the city’s political elite, Curvin was busy building a lengthy resume that belied his unique aptitude for both activism and academia.
By 1990, he had helped establisj he non-profit New Community Corporation as a founding board member, spent seven years on the editorial board at the New York Times, earned a doctorate in political science from Princeton, served as dean of the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University, and begun a 12-year stint heading the Ford Foundation, which ended in 2000.
Curvin largely focused on academic pursuits during his later years, penning books on urban politics and the history of Newark. Just last year, he published “Inside Newark. Decline, Rebellion, and the Search for Transformation” — a comprehensive look at the city’s path since the infamous riots.
“He was right in there at the top of his game, even at the end of his life,” said People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Lawrence Hamm, a fellow civil rights leader who had known Curvin for more than 40 years.
A longtime resident of Newark’s Vailsburg section, Curvin and his wife Patricia remained in the same home on Reynolds Place for most of their lives. They raised a son, Dr. Frank Curvin, and a daughter, Nicole.
He also spent his final years serving his original alma mater, Rutgers-Newark, working as a visiting scholar and professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy on the university’s New Brunswick campus.
In a statement, Chancellor Nancy Cantor called his death a “huge blow” to the campus community.
“In our midst was one of the country’s most incisive social critics, deeply committed to issues of social justice and yet, he was so gentle and kind. He was someone we could all love and trust.”