Older Jazz Musicians Waiting Out COVID 19 with Acceptance

While response to the coronavirus has resulted in a shut down in performances venues throughout the music scene, the hiatus is particularly difficult for older players, reports The Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich. For 80 and 90-year-olds the cancelled gig may have been the last they ever play. But in interviews with Jazz survivors such as pianist Erwin Helfer, 84, guitarist George Freeman, 93, trumpeter Bobby Lewis, 84,  and others, Reich reports they’re upbeat and keeping busy. They’ve been through many tough situations over the years. For veteran professionals like Freeman, part of the First Family of Chicago Jazz that included his older brother tenor saxophonist Von Freeman and his nephew, saxophonist Chico Freeman, staying at home means he can practice more, especially the technical aspects of his instrument, and compose new tunes. Freeman had to forego his annual mid-April birthday celebration at a local club, where he was planning to unveil some new and different concepts, but he’s thankful that others are helping him get by during this difficult period. Still, he admits, “I miss playing jazz clubs … I’m very anxious to play in the clubs and very anxious to play with other musicians.”