NPR logo On The Wives Of Late Jazz Greats

Music Articles

On The Wives Of Late Jazz Greats

The Mingus Big Band in 2008, with Sue Mingus. Jimmy Katz hide caption

toggle caption
Jimmy Katz

The Mingus Big Band in 2008, with Sue Mingus.

Jimmy Katz

Not too long ago, fellow blogger Felix Contreras and I were watching Maxine Gordon formally donate the collection of her late husband, Dexter Gordon, over to the Library of Congress. Today, in the Wall Street Journal, Marc Myers, who the Jazz Internet knows from JazzWax, wrote about Maxine Gordon and her fellow "savvy" widows of jazz greats. People like Gordon, Laurie Pepper, Sue Mingus and Francine Bellson, writes Myers, are often the ones left to negotiate the complicated maneuvers that leverage the estate earnings and reputations of their deceased husbands. Unfortunately, Myers also notes that spouses more often than not lack the wherewithal to deal with the labyrinthine machinations of the music business.

One might note that this applies not only to wives, but families at large. At the Library of Congress presentation, Max Roach's daughter was there too, the representative of her late father's collection. And who will deal with the estates of folks like Sonny Rollins and Sam Rivers, who have outlived their wives, when they inevitably pass on? (Also, insert rant about family structures and gender roles here.) I digress, though. It's a fascinating story, and it sheds light on the fact that some names live on because of active marketing and maintenance. On his blog, Myers even has supplemental advice for spouses dealing with these situations. Finally, the article: [Wall Street Journal: Savvy Widows Leverage Jazz Legends' Legacies ]