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Memories & Candles

“Roxanne and Micheal:Steven and I are very sorry to hear of you lost. Our love and prays are with you in this time of sorrows. May you find strength...Read More »
1 of 19 | Posted by: Elizabeth & Steven VanRabenswaay - NY

“I am very sorry for your loss. Harold was a true musical icon and who will be missed by all who knew him. ”
2 of 19 | Posted by: Mary Mclaurine - Richmond Hill, NY

“With Deepest Sympathy!!! ”
3 of 19 | Posted by: Myron Jones - Memphis, TN

“Peace Be Upon Harold my dear pianohero ”
4 of 19 | Posted by: juini booth - New York City, NY

“I had always admired Harold's playing through the years, studying at Betklee, them Rutgers. I never had the privilege of formal study under Mr....Read More »
5 of 19 | Posted by: Jim Kost Kost - New York, NY

“I'm sorry that recovering from illness prevented me from saying goodbye to Harold in person this morning at his funeral. He will rest forever in my...Read More »
6 of 19 | Posted by: Lee Lowenfish - New York, NY

“My condolences to the family ”
7 of 19 | Posted by: Steve Shaw - Bx, NY - Friend

“Harold Mabern's powerful and distinctive piano playing was perhaps even surpassed by his graciousness, generosity of spirit and dedication to...Read More »
8 of 19 | Posted by: Daralyn Jay - NEW YORK, NY

Harol<br />ds and Kirk MacDonald “I would like to offer my deepest felt condolences to the Mabern family, on behalf of myself, Lucie and Virginia. Harold was a dear friend, mentor and...Read More »
9 of 19 | Posted by: Kirk MacDonald - Toronto, ON

“Harold Mabern's spirit will live on.It won't just dissipate into space because we all shared a piece of it and it will just keep going. It doesn't...Read More »
10 of 19 | Posted by: Bill Mobley - Bergenfield, NJ

“Harold was so supportive and encouraging to me about my piano playing. Sam Baum ”
11 of 19 | Posted by: Sam Baum - New York, NY - Friend

“I REMEBER SOO WELL THE HUMAN BEING WHO WAS PART OF MY JOURNEY..BELOVEDH HAROLD NEVER EVER LET ME DOWN..WE GIGED FOR SOME TIME AND I NEVER HAD TO...Read More »
12 of 19 | Posted by: Dr. Stella aka Grandma Marrs - SC

“Harold, You were a welcoming gentlemen as you allowed me to film you at the Monday Jam Sessions. Every time you came we knew something spectacular...Read More »
13 of 19 | Posted by: ANTHONY WEEKS - BRONX, NY

“Harold,Thank you so much for the many times you came to play, sing, and testify at events at the Shrine of the Masters Jazz Gallery/Lee Morgan Legacy...Read More »
14 of 19 | Posted by: Lena Sherrod - NY - Friend

“The Young Men from Memphis, a generation of musicians who added so much to Jazz from the 1950s forward are now either aged or no longer with us....Read More »
15 of 19 | Posted by: Phil Schaap - New York, NY

“I saw you at the Jazz Foundation of America Jam Session many times. I learned how to play better piano behind vocalists by watching you at the Union...Read More »
16 of 19 | Posted by: Hank Johnson - NY - Acquaintance

“He was my mentor, my teacher. I like to think he was my friend of 33 years; I started studying with him in around 1988. He was one of the kindest,...Read More »
17 of 19 | Posted by: Ellen Cantarow - New York, NY

“Wonderful, nice, thoughtful person,who I allways injoyed playing with and talking to when we were not on the Bandstand.John Gillmore ,Horald and...Read More »
18 of 19 | Posted by: Eugene O Bass - Denver, CO

“So sorry for your loss Roxanne. Please let us know if you need anything. We are thinking of you. ”
19 of 19 | Posted by: Cathy Hickling - Farmingdale, NY


Wheat Emblem

HAROLD MABERN JR, WAS BORN IN AMERICA'S JAZZ CAPITAL, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, ON MARCH 20TH, 1936, TO PARENTS HAROLD MABERN SR. AND ELNORA SMITH.

HIS MUSICAL JOURNEY STARTED WITH PLAYING BARITONE HORN IN THE DOUGLASS HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND; AT AGE FIFTEEN, HE HEARD A YOUNG LADY PLAY A SONG ON THE PIANO FROM MEMORY AFTER LISTENING TO IT ONCE, JUMPSTARTING HIS INTEREST IN IMPROVISATION.

TRANSFERRING TO MEMPHIS' ACCLAIMED MANASSAS HIGH SCHOOL, MABERN STUDIED PIANO BY DAY, CONSUMED THE MUSIC OF CHARLES THOMAS AND PHINEAS NEWBORN JR. AFTER SCHOOL, AND GIGGED WITH CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND MEMPHIS JAZZ ICONS GEORGE COLEMAN, FRANK STROZIER, AND CHARLES LLOYD FOR A DOLLAR A NIGHT.

AWARDED A FULL MUSIC SCHOLASHIP TO TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY, MABERN INSTEAD OPTED TO ATTEND CHICAGO'S PRESTIGIOUS AMERICAN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC. WHEN LACK OF FUNDS PREVENTED HIM FROM ENROLLING, HE ATTENDED "THE UNIVERSITY OF THE CLUBS" GETTING ON THE CITY'S VIBRANT JAZZ SCENE, LEARNING FROM LUMINARIES SUCH AS AHMAD JAMAL AND BILL LEE, EVENTUALLY BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE MJT+3 WITH WALTER PERKINS, FRANK STROZIER AND BOB CRANSHAW.

HE CONSIDERED THE CHICAGO MOVE THE BEST DECISION OF HIS LIFE, NOT ONLY FOR THE MUSIC, BUT FOR MEETING THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE, BEATRICE OWENS MABERN, WHO HE WAS MARRIED TO FOR ALMOST FORTY YEARS UNTIL HER UNTIMELY PASSING IN 2010.

ARRIVING 60 YEARS AGO IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1959, HE CHECKED INTO A LOW RENT HOTEL, WENT IMMEDIATELY TO THE LEGENDARY CLUB BIRDLAND, OUTSIDE OF WHICH HE MET SAX MASTER "CANNONBALL" ADDERLY, WHO SAID "HEY BIG HANDS, WANNA GIG?" HE WAS TAKEN TO AUDITION FOR HARRY "SWEETS" EDISON'S BAND; "SWEETS" CALLED A TUNE, MABERN PLAYED IT, WAS HIRED ON THE SPOT, AND AN ICON WAS BORN.

MABERN QUICKLY ESTABLISHED A REP AS GO-TO SIDEMAN AND ACCOMPANIST, TOURING WITH LIONEL HAMPTON AND VOCALIST JOE WILLIAMS, RECORDING A LANDMARK ALBUM WITH THE GREAT BETTY CARTER, AND BEING PART OF A LEGENDARY MID 60'S CALIFORNIA TOUR WITH THE MILES DAVIS QUINTET.

HE APPEARED ON MANY ALBUMS DURING THE CLASSIC 1960'S "BLUE NOTE RECORDS" ERA, INCLUDING AN ALMOST TEN YEAR COLLABORATION WITH TRUMPET GENIUS LEE MORGAN, UNTIL HIS UNTIMELY PASSING IN 1972.

MABERN TRULY SHINED AS A LEADER AND COMPOSER WITH HIS OWN ALBUMS, INCLUDING THE "CLASSIC FOUR" ON PRESTIGE RECORDS,
A FEW MILES FROM MEMPHIS, RAKIN' AND SCRAPIN', WORKIN' AND WAILIN', AND GREASY KID STUFF; AND CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED WORKS IN THE 90'S,
THE LEADING MAN, STRAIGHT STREET AND TO MAYA WITH LOVE, FEATURING A WHO'S WHO OF PLAYERS SUCH AS RON CARTER, CHRISTIAN MACBRIDE, ERIC ALEXANDER, JOE FARNSWORTH, AND JOHN WEBBER.

WHILE SOME MUSIC FIGURES RETIRE, "BIG HANDS" HAD NO QUIT,
RE-ESTABLISHING HIMSELF AS A FORCE TO RECKONED WITH IN HIS 80'S, RELEASING A STRING OF CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL ALBUMS WITH SMOKE SESSIONS RECORDS, INCLUDING THE IRON MAN, A TWO DISC LIVE SET AT SMOKE JAZZ & SUPPER CLUB, AND HIS MAGNUM OPUS, AFRO BLUE, FEATURING TOP TIER VOCALISTS GREGORY PORTER, KURT ELLING, JANE MONHEIT AND NORAH JONES. BOTH ALBUMS SAT AT NUMBER ONE ATOP THE JAZZ CHARTS FOR SEVERAL WEEKS.

WITHOUT QUESTION, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE MABERN LEGACY WAS HIS BUOYANT PERSONALITY, AND UNENDING LOVE AND GENEROSITY TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS. HE LIVED FOR MAKING SURE LOVED ONES WERE WELL TAKEN CARE OF, TELLING STORIES TO ENTERTAIN HIS PEERS OVER BARBEQUE DINNERS AT HILLSTONE'S, AND ALWAYS TAKING THE TIME TO BE A MENTOR TO HUNDREDS OF MUSICIANS OVER FIVE DECADES.
IT'S FITTING THAT HE SPENT HIS LAST DAY CONTINUING HIS FORTY YEAR STINT AS A JAZZ INSTRUCTOR AT NEW JERSEY'S WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY, PUTTING A NEW CROP OF INCOMING STUDENTS THROUGH THEIR PACES ON THEIR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.

HAROLD MABERN IS SURVIVED BY HIS DAUGHTER ROXANNE AND HER HUSBAND MICHAEL, HIS SON MICHAEL AND HIS WIFE JUDI, AND HIS GRANDDAUGHTER MAYA GLENNE.

TO HAROLD WITH LOVE.