January 19, 2021

Junior Mance 1928-2021


It has been my privilege to meet and converse with a long list of notable jazz personalities, and I thought of pianist Junior Mance as one of my favorite guys. His wife, Gloria Clayborne Mance, announced his passing at home yesterday after a long illness. My first reaction to hearing this news was to fetch my autographed copy of the 1960s era “Harlem Lullaby” LP and play the title track. It took me back to my junior high days when I listened to an all-night jazz station and first heard this evocative Junior Mance composition.

We interviewed Junior twice for the Fillius Jazz Archive and he shared fascinating stories about his learning process, career path, and notable collaborations. Junior worked as a sideman with none other than Cannonball Adderley, Joe Williams, and many others, but spent most of his career as a leader of his own trio.

In a fortuitous aligning of the stars, we were able to facilitate a CD of a previously unreleased live date from 1964 with Joe Williams and the Junior Mance Trio with Ben Webster as special guest. “Havin’ A Good Time” was produced by Joel Dorn who also supervised Junior’s “Harlem Lullaby” LP.

In 2015 I was able to bring The Junior Mance Trio to Hamilton for what turned out to be his last road trip. He showed early signs of poor health, but his distinctive brand of blues-drenched bop won over students and faculty alike.

From the Fillius archive, here is a link to the first YouTube interview conducted with Junior on July 27, 1995. The second interview, conducted on January 18, 1999, can be found here.

The archive sends its deepest sympathy to Gloria, as we mourn the passing of yet another jazz luminary.