The Grim Reaper's been damned busy with prominent musical figures lately. Today we have the misfortune to note the passing of legendary Beatles producer George Martin (90), Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis (54), and Brazilian world-jazz percussionist Naná Vasconcelos (71).
Martin, of course, helped to elevate the Beatles to pop godhead status by adding inventive studio flourishes and techniques to their indelible songwriting prowess. Through his bold orchestral and arranging skills (and the odd keyboard cameo), he aided the English group's evolution to masters of beautiful, expansive psychedelia (hear, for example, "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Rain," "I Am the Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "It's All Too Much," "She Said She Said," and many more).
Besides the Beatles, Martin worked the console for America, Cheap Trick, Jeff Beck, the Action, Ultravox, and many others. He also composed music for film and television, including the swinging number below for the BBC.
Ned Lannamann of The Stranger's sister paper Portland Mercury wrote a nice eulogy today for Andrew Loomis, who died after a series of strokes and respiratory problems following a long battle with lymphoma. Loomis powered the beloved underground Portland punk band fronted by Fred and Toody Cole with controlled fury. It won't be easy to replace him.
Naná Vasconcelos was a master of the berimbau, a single-stringed percussion instrument from his native Brazil. He found innumerable ways to ingeniously manipulate its twangy, resonant properties both on his solo albums and in collaboration with major players in world, ambient, and jazz genres, including Jon Hassell, Gato Barbieri, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, and in the group Codona with Don Cherry and Collin Walcott. Vasconcelos played a crucial role on several boundary-pushing records that fused jazz with African-Brazilian rhythmic elements. He imbued every track on which he played with a deep, spiritual pulse and piquant, otherworldly timbres.