All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Opinion


Tim Eyerman: Thanks for the Memories


Sign in to view read count
For some time, Eyerman teetered on a precipice of potential fame, and fell back into relative obscurity and anonymity
There are countless musicians, in any major city, that regularly display an unusual degree of artistry and musicianship. They perform, compose or teach throughout a region and, regardless of their categorized arena, are known to only a few assiduous hobbyists and music fanatics. The musician may, or may not, fantasize about national fame and considerable fortune. But the merits of their relative talents are often unrelated to the degree of monetary success or obvious name recognition.

Although Washington, D.C. is not often thought of throughout the country as a gathering of local and masterful musicians, it has its, perhaps surprisingly, inordinate share of stunning musicians. Saxophonist Buck Hill and drummer Nasar Abadey are obvious current jazz examples in this city. Shirley Horn toiled for many years playing dingy clubs in tattered strip malls and clubs while recording on the Danish Steeplechase label, before Verve waived a contract before her. Washington, D.C., however, recently lost Tim Eyerman; few have even noticed.

Eyerman was a multi-instrumentalist, playing alto, tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones, flue, piccolo and bass flute, oboe and percussion—all with equal ease and aplomb. He briefly played in the United States Navy Band. He taught for some time at a high school for the arts, and he led his "East Coast Offering group for decades. He was twice nominated for a Grammy award and performed from local clubs to national festivals.

Eyerman was one of the first jazz musicians I ever witnessed in concert, and I have many fond memories of his good natured performances, continually erupting with striking musicianship. The listener never knew what he would play; any of the aforementioned instruments were candidates and almost all were utilized during a set. He used to play a small club in Alexandria, Virginia called the "219 . It is located (it remains operational, although the music presentation has been drastically curtailed) on the second floor of a relatively ornate New Orleans restaurant. Although the upstairs bar area was framed by a low ceiling, the stage opened to a second story loft; the listener could sit at tiny tables before the musicians, or ascend the stairs to the balcony, and peer down upon the group. Twenty years ago, the venue regularly hosted Eyerman. Legendary guitarist Steve Jordan also played with much frequency ("Rhythm Man [University of Michigan Press], Jordan's autobiography, has some photos of him taken in performance at the club). In any event, it was an unforgettable imprint on an impressionable teenager just beginning to listen to jazz seriously.

I can't pretend to be an emphatic and unfailing follower of Eyerman's music. Much of it was transparent and appeared to pander to a "smooth jazz fan base. But one had only to listen closely to find something of interest; the thematic material was often jubilant, and sometimes poignant. The playing displayed a technical prowess and ease with a deft turn of phrase. Although Eyerman often focused on "fusion efforts, the music was never vacuous. It remained emotional, distinctive and tasteful.

Bad luck or star alignment; for whatever the reason, Eyerman never received his undoubted much sought after national recognition. I am probably one of only a handful of people to actually possess his first self-produced LP, "Unity , released in 1977. He recorded an album for MCA ("Easy Coast Offering ) and several for Mesa/BlueMoon ("Jazz on L" is one such title). Nothing remains in print. He has no entries on is bare. He had no website. There are neither articles regarding his recent efforts, nor news of his death, on the web. He once commented and lamented that "Kenny G once opened for me! Perhaps his seemingly unending supply of apparent optimism was crushed. I have no idea, as I never spoke to him about his professional situation. In any event, he relocated from Washington, D.C. to Miami Beach five years ago. He was at work on a performance manual when he succumbed to lung cancer in the age of sixty.

I can't proclaim that I often return to Eyerman's albums. I do, however, reminisce about the wonder and discovery of live performance and the exuberance displayed by a musician in the joy of music. For some time, Eyerman teetered on a precipice of potential fame, and fell back into relative obscurity and anonymity. I imagine that many musicians drown in such fear. I never had either the courage or the temerity to become a musician. But the premature death of Tim Eyerman can serve to remind us of the innumerable artists who do not enjoy the benefit or satisfaction of relative renown, but nevertheless make a distinctive impression and share much joy.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Jazz and Assault Rifles: A Peace Barrage Opinion
Jazz and Assault Rifles: A Peace Barrage
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 26, 2018
Read Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive Opinion
Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive
by Steve Provizer
Published: June 23, 2017
Read NEA Dismantling: Let's Do The Time Warp Again Opinion
NEA Dismantling: Let's Do The Time Warp Again
by Homer Jackson
Published: April 12, 2017
Read Chuck Berry: 1926-2017 Opinion
Chuck Berry: 1926-2017
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read New York Times Downsizes Jazz Coverage: A Response Opinion
New York Times Downsizes Jazz Coverage: A Response
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 7, 2017
Read Hentoff helped pave way for jazz journalism’s acceptance Opinion
Hentoff helped pave way for jazz journalism’s...
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Enzo Zirilli's "Radio London" project with Peter Bernstein at Folkclub" In Pictures Enzo Zirilli's "Radio London" project with...
by Antonio Baiano
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen" Profiles The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen
by Gloria Krolak
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Jazz, Suffering, and Meaning" What is Jazz? Jazz, Suffering, and Meaning
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "King Kong to Sharpeville" Radio King Kong to Sharpeville
by Seton Hawkins
Published: September 16, 2018