Celebrated jazz trombonist Grachan Moncur III dies at age 85

The jazz world is in mourning amid news of the death of groundbreaking trombonist Grachan Moncur III, who died in New Jersey at the age of 85, as NPR reports.

Moncur, who was renowned for his collaborations with legendary saxophonists including Wayne Shorter, Jackie McLean, and Archie Shepp, reportedly passed away on his birthday of cardiac arrest.

The musician’s family reported that he had suffered from poor health for an extended period of time and also underwent a leg amputation stemming from vascular concerns earlier this year.

Recognized for his contributions to the avante-garde jazz movement of the 1960s, Moncur made a name for himself as a result of his work on a number of albums released under the Blue Note label, as the U.K. Guardian noted.

Born in New York City, Moncur was raised largely in Newark, New Jersey in a home that was frequented by a number of prominent musicians of the day, a group that included famed songstress Sarah Vaughan, who was his mother’s close friend.

Moncur began his musical journey playing the piano and the cello, but took up the trombone at age nine, receiving formal training in North Carolina and later the Manhattan School of Music as well as the world-famous Juilliard conservatory.

When Juilliard became unaffordable, Moncur became a member of Ray Charles’ band before moving on to a group known as the Jazztet, where he played alongside notables Art Farmer and Benny Golson.

Ultimately, Moncur released two Blue Note albums of his own, and they were recognized not just for their technical mastery, but also their innovative approach that drew the interest of a new generation of jazz performers.

In addition to his wife Tamam Tracy Sims, left to mourn Moncur are two brothers, three sons, two daughters, several grandchildren, and a universe of jazz aficionados who will celebrate his musical legacy for decades to come.