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Remembering one of the first fallen of 2009 .... bassist Ralph Ortiz

image of Ralph OrtizIn posting the list of the jazz fallen of 2008 (which I did from a conference in NYC) on February 2nd, I was unaware that a bass player Rafael "Ralph" Ortiz, beloved by many in Rochester, had just passed away Monday after a short battle with cancer discovered only weeks ago. I had heard that Ortiz was in the hospital at the Exodus to Jazz gig on January 30th and was told at that time that his time was short, but hadn't heard about his death from anyone and have been traveling.  Ralph was most recently associated with Prime Time Funk, but also played with Cabo Frio, Chet Catallo & The Cats, and a host of other bands.

Although I'm a bit late (apparently the wake was on the 4th), due to the number of folks who have already left comments elsewhere (and elsewhere on this blog), I thought I'd add a quick post to provide another place for musicians who worked with or loved Ralph Ortiz to write their thoughts on his passing.  You can find other thoughts on the City obit and on Jeff Spevak's article in the D&C and read comments there as well. Added imageTracy Kroft remembers on Rochester Music Scene (and Heard).

Please click on the comment link at the bottom of this post if you'd like leave your thoughts here.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


I put a little something in my blog the day after the funeral. You'll find it here:

Sorry I didn't let you know; I just wasn't thinking clearly.

Ralph... Though we didn't play together in recent years, I'll never forget our times in Jimmy Richmond's band Saratoga back in '78. Even as jazz is my forte, I'd always tell people, there was more creativity going on in that funk-rock group than in any jazz group I was playing in at the time. And that was 'cause of your "big" responsive ears and your open curiosity to always explore new musical avenues. We may've played a similar program every night, but never was there a routine night without highly spontaneous musical surprises--sometimes even humorous!--going down, thanks to the freedom of expression Jimmy encouraged in us, and thanks to the rapport we had as a band, and particularly how you and "MeeTah MeeTah" Dave Acorso clicked.

When we'd bump into one another over the years since Saratoga and The Glass Onion, like the last time we'd meet, a few years ago in Rubino's parking lot, we'd still laugh at the sheer musical fun we had back then. Yep, you and that ever welcoming smile of yours.

Well, hey, man, maybe you're "up there" thumpin' with Dave now.

And I just wanted to say how I regret not knowing you'd taken ill, much less had left us. But my memory of you is of musical life. Like I say, you gave me--and tons of other musicians--high points in our careers. You were humble, loving and EXEMPLARY not only as an artist but as a person, and I wish I could be more like you, Ralph.

And, cool, I hear you were checking out your Latin roots with Jose (Gonzalez). Right to the end, still exploring. There was so much more to come, my friend. I know we'd have played together again.

Ralph Ortiz was clearly a example of major league player living in a place that is some ways off the beaten path. He will be greatly missed.

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