Bill Keith – sleep well

Posted: October 25, 2015 in rants

Bill KeithI don’t usually post about death. But in Bill Keith’s case, I feel the loss. I only got to meet him a dozen or so times, with a few phone calls in between, so my conversations with him are measured in hours. His genius as a musician needs no comment from me. And I’m sure his humility and genuine friendliness and support to anyone I ever knew him to meet will be spoken of as well. So I’ll just chronicle two things.

The first was a particular time we were sitting in a room with maybe three other people and Bill was going on about the circle of fifths, which quickly turned into jazz theory, and then went on into space somewhere past Mars. No one could follow him, and that was just fine; to watch the sheer joy he took in his journey and the amazing sounds he could make as he thought of them was pure magic. Theory I can get from a book anytime; magic is rare and precious, and Bill had lots to spare.

The second was outside a concert in a church someplace. Bill was waiting for his turn to go on, and was outside chatting with a couple of people, me included, about something inconsequential. Coming from inside, we could faintly hear Cynthia Sayer tearing her instrument apart with some insane jazz thing. While Bill was talking and seemingly paying no attention to anything but his words, his left hand was unconsciously following what Cynthia was doing up and down the neck, fingers stretching into impossible positions with no apparent effort, or even thought. He was made of music.

I am very glad I was able to spend the time I did with him. Sleep well.

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