Subject: Hank Jones & Abbey Lincoln
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 08:29:07 -0700
Finding harmony together
The unexpected reunion of two New York jazz legends
BY JULIAN KESNER / Daily News
Monday, March 19th 2007, 12:26 AM
Dr. Sandhya Balaram (standing far l.) and Dr. Daniel Swistel, both heart
surgeons at St. Luke's Hospital, join their recovering patients Abbey Lincoln
Moseka and Hank Jones.
The jazz pianist and jazz singer sat side by side talking softly and exchanging
memories. It had been 10 years since they last saw each other, and 15 since
they recorded a full-length album together. Occasionally, the singer would
break into song, and the pianist would pick up the tune and sing along.
But there was no piano present, nor a recording studio. The only
background music was the beeping of a heart monitor machine, and air
moving through an artificial respirator down the hall. Their managers
and producers were nowhere to be seen – only doctors and nurses, who
from afar kept an eye on the pair and the reporter sitting beside them.
It was an unlikely
reunion in the most unlikely of places for Hank Jones and Abbey Lincoln
Moseka, two jazz legends whose paths crossed again last Tuesday at St.
Jones, 88, has been playing the piano for over 60 years. He recorded with
Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald, among others, and played for “The Ed
Sullivan Show” for many years.
The 77-year-old Lincoln Moseka grew up in Chicago as Anna Marie Wooldridge (a former manager gave her the stage name Abbey Lincoln). She came to New York in her 20s and sang at the Village Vanguard, later
marrying jazz and bebop composer Max Roach (they divorced in the 1960s) and starring in several films.
Producer Jean-Philippe Allard jump-started Lincoln Moseka's career in the
early 1990s, culminating with the 1992 album “When There Is Love” -
recorded with none other than jazz pianist Hank Jones over three or four days. The duo
have also performed on tracks for other albums.
Jones came to New York City in February after
a few months in Japan, where he performed “a few concerts in Kobe”
and spent time relaxing. Two weeks after arriving here, the problems began.
“It felt like indigestion,” he recalled last Tuesday, seated in
Lincoln Moseka's hospital room at St. Luke's, wrapped in a thick bathrobe.
“I didn't feel any pain.”
In reality, Jones had suffered a massive heart attack. St. Luke's cardiothoracic
surgeon Dr. Sandhya Balaram performed bypass surgery on Jones on Feb. 28, and
he's recovering well.
“He said the only thing wrong with his room was there was no
piano,” said Balaram.
Lincoln Moseka was rushed to St. Luke's on March 3, not breathing and
suffering heart failure and pulmonary edema (during which the lungs fill
with fluid). St. Luke's cardiothoracic surgery chief, Dr. Daniel Swistel
performed aortic valve replacement and bypass surgery and Lincoln Moseka has been in the ICU since.
“Her recuperation will be a bit slower. She's got more to recover,”
Jones and Lincoln Moseka had no idea they were in the same hospital at
the same time, but while Googling their respective album histories,
Balaram and Swistel realized their patients' connection and arranged
for the reunion.
Jones is expected to be at St. Luke's a couple more weeks, continuing physical
therapy after being discharged. Lincoln Moseka's recovery is more unsure; she
may still be in the hospital when her new album, “Abbey Sings Abbey,”
is released later this year.
Regardless, within minutes of seeing each other again, Jones, Lincoln Moseka and their healing hearts seemed to relax.
“Old friends should never get separated. A lot of years have gone
Jones, adding to Lincoln Moseka, “We should record together!”
“He always makes me feel special,”said Lincoln Moseka, visibly weak but
smiling nonetheless. “It's wonderful to see him.”