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Olympia jazz pianist dies


How to help

-What: A pair of benefit fund-raisers are planned to remember pianist Bob Nixon.
-When/where: 3-7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Tula's, 2214 Second Ave., Seattle; and 1-4 p.m. Feb. 15 at Art House Designs, 420-B Franklin St. S.E., Olympia.
-Admission: $10 suggested donation.
-Donations: An account has been set up for donations to Nixon's family. For more details, e-mail Steven Bentley at stevensusi@aol.com.

Olympia-based jazz pianist Bob Nixon died Tuesday from cancer. He was 67.

A pair of fund-raising memorial concerts are planned for Feb. 14 in Seattle and Feb. 15 in Olympia.

"He loved jazz and loved being on the planet," said his wife, Pam Sinclair-Nixon. "He practiced for hours every day. He was always looking for new ways to express himself."

Born in New Mexico, Nixon moved to Kirkland when he was 12. His first instrument was guitar. He went on to play a number of wind instruments and ultimately the piano.

Nixon established himself on the Northwest jazz scene in the 1960s. He accompanied vocalists such as Ernestine Anderson, Dee Daniels, Marlena Shaw and Jay Clayton.

His instrumental performances include work with Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt, Red Holloway, James Moody, Eddie "LockJaw" Davis, Harry "Sweets" Eddison and Rufus Reed.

During the years, Nixon performed on dozens of records, including the recent Jay Thomas release "Blues for JW," recorded live in Seattle in 2002.

Nixon, who made his living through music, also taught at Bellevue Community College and Edmonds Community College.

"Bob was the epitome of the modern jazz piano player. He did it all," said bassist and friend Steve Luceno, who also performs with the Olympia band Obrador. "We're going to miss him greatly, both personally and musically."

Olympia-based tenor saxophone player Chuck Stentz echoed that sentiment.

"He's probably the best piano player I've ever worked with," said Stentz. "He was a true bebopper. He honed his art to a fine, fine degree."

Nixon is survived by his wife, Pam, and two daughters, Jessica, 17, and Cassandra, 12.

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