RIP Sir Stanley Glasser and Thomasz Stanko

Two sad deaths in the past week have particular resonance for South Africans. On Sunday composer Professor Stanley Glasser (above) passed away at the age of 92. This tribute from the London Bach Society details his distinguished career overseas. But for South Africans, it’s as ‘Spike’ Glasser, partner in crime with Todd Matshikiza, Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and others as the musical King Kong was first put together that he is probably most affectionately remembered. Black cast members I talked to certainly had no rose-coloured spectacles about the tensions inherent in that production – but Glasser was universally recalled as a decent, humane musical collaborator with an impish sense of fun. May his spirit rest in peace.
When trumpeter Tomasz Stanko visited South Africa for the 2014 Joy of Jazz festival, he spent much of our interview gazing wistfully out of the window of his fortress hotel in Sandton, expressing the wish that his timetable allowed time for him to see the real city and meet its people. “I must come back and do that,” he said. Sadly, Stanko was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year and died aged 76. This Guardian obituary
sums up his career. Those of us fortunate enough to hear his incandescent notes four years ago remain in his debt for the gift of that music. Hamba Kahle.

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