Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, the reigning patriarch of Detroit’s jazz scene, fought heart and pulmonary issues for years and used oxygen 24 hours a day. But you would hardly know it to hear him play.
Belgrave still lit up bandstands from here to New York with his clarion tone, soulful improvisations and charismatic personality. And just as he had done for 45 years in Detroit, he mentored young musicians, initiating them into the expressive glories of jazz.
Belgrave’s heart finally gave out today at age 78. Death has silenced his horn, but his legacy will remain immortal.
Belgrave died at Glacier Hills, a care and rehabilitation facility in Ann Arbor. His wife, vocalist Joan Belgrave, said he died in his sleep. The cause of death was heart failure. He had been in and out of the hospital since April 19, battling complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. But he had also shown signs of steady improvement and was practicing daily. His wife said they had spent Saturday preparing for his return to the stage at the Concert of Colors in July.
His last public appearance was April 17 in Durham, N.C., as part of a “trumpet summit” with Russell Gunn and Rayse Biggs, but Belgrave continued to play in his hospital bed, including brief jam sessions with fellow musicians.
SOURCE: Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press