Jazz great Doc Cheatham dies

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jazz trumpeter Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, who played with three generations of artists from Bessie Smith and Cab Calloway to recent up-and-comers, died Monday, two days after performing at a Georgetown club.
Cheatham, who would have celebrated his 92nd birthday on June 13, died in his sleep at George Washington University Hospital after suffering a stroke in his hotel room Sunday. His wife, Nelly, and daughter, Alicia, were at his side when he died, friends said.
President Clinton, a blues fan and occasional saxophonist, said he and his wife, Hillary, were deeply saddened by Cheatham’s death. “He inspired musicians and amazed fans with his timeless play,” said the president.
During a seven-decade career, Cheatham played in countless jazz clubs as well as with big bands and accompanied such artists as blues singer Smith in the 1920s. In the ’30s, he was lead trumpeter with Calloway’s band.
He didn’t emerge as a widely known soloist until well into his career — in his 60s — but in recent years had won wide acclaim for his version of the New Orleans sound. Fellow jazz artists marveled at his longevity.
“Though Doc Cheatham is soon to turn 87, musicians half his age would feel blessed to handle a trumpet as elegantly as he,” wrote one reviewer after a jazz festival in New Orleans four years ago.
On Saturday night, Cheatham shared the stage at Blues Alley, a jazz club in the capital’s Georgetown section, with jazz up-and-comer Nicholas Payton. The two, born nearly 70 years apart, had recently collaborated on an album, “Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton,” that made the top 20 jazz album charts this spring.