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Artist Profiles

Victor Feldman - Part 5: The Final Years, 1978-87

By Published: February 20, 2009
For a variety of reasons, the blues, musically and emotionally, became a very large factor in Victor's life as in September 1984 his beloved wife Marilyn passed away quite suddenly. This was also around the time that he would be further shattered by the news of his dear friend Shelly Manne's death from a heart attack.

Victor would also be gone a few years later as he died on May 12, 1987 at the age of 53.

In the Producer's Notes for his JVC compilation of recordings by Victor's jazz-rock Soft Shoulder and Generation Band, whose music—although excellent—falls outside the purely jazz scope of this piece, Mike Brown had this to say about the significance of Victor Feldman and his legacy:

"When we think of jazz legends,the names that usually come to mind most quickly are artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker... One name that is rarely heard in the context of these legends is Victor Feldman. Yet anyone familiar with his work would not deny his immense talent or indelible influence on any artist he has worked with. This reputation secured Victor Feldman's place as a musician's musician and gave him the opportunity to put his stamp on a number of now classic recordings. His work with a virtual who's who of artists ranging from, Cannonball Adderley to Steely Dan makes him a true 'legend.'"

Bob Cooper, who shared the bandstand with Victor at The Lighthouse Cafe'in Hermosa Beach, back when it all began for Victor, had this to say after his death:

"Victor was all about music and although he had a lot of native ability he was constantly applying himself, always learning something new. He made himself into a phenomenal pianist; a guy who could play something that would really turn your head around. It seemed like he was everywhere in the studios, but he always had something going on around town with his trio, over at Donte's with [tenor saxophonists] Tom Scott or Ernie Watts or involved with some concert project. He wasn't an open man. He always seemed to be absorbed in his own thoughts. But if you asked him something or needed him for anything, he would stop whatever he was doing and help you right away. He was very successful commercially; he took care of his family in style. There can be a lot of tension on a studio gig, but if he was on the date, his knowledge and ability was a real calming influence.'

"Victor was a real musical presence and I'll miss him terribly."

Bob wasn't alone.

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