Jeff Sweet, pianist extraordinaire, left the planet last week after a courageous battle with cancer. It's a big loss to the musical community of southwestern Colorado. Jeff has long been a part of the scene, since his early days with New Moon and later with Hues of Blues. He was a mainstay in the Durango musical community.
For years Jeff was the pianist for Jeff Solon's swing band, and I was the vocalist. When I wasn't singing, I often stepped back behind the piano, and just watched him play. He was almost always brilliant, even when dealing with the after-effects of his many cancer therapies. His hands were amazing - almost twice the size of mine - and he could create stunning voicings. He was also a mad man about rhythm and could hammer the piano into submission, without ever losing a hint of musicality, or his precision. So lovely sometimes it could break your heart - sometimes so intricate and complicated all you could do was smile in wonder and disbelief. A few times I was fortunate to have Jeff play for me at solo gigs, and I was in vocalist heaven.
Funny, smart - cranky with a sly smile - a man devoted to his daughter - athletic and deeper than he would let most of us imagine or know. Through those many years of watching him and listening to him play has truly been a musical education, and I will miss him and the beautiful music he brought into my world.