Jazz Legend Corky McClerkin Dead at 73

Longtime jazz pianist Corky McClerkin has died.

He was 73.

The musician, and his wife, Winnie Mae Cole-McClerkin, 72, died Sunday afternoon near 57th Drive and Hyde Park Boulevard in Chicago, their daughter, Casemmie Cole-Kweli told the Chicago Tribune.

The couple’s car crashed into a tree in a single-car accident.

“He was so full of joy when he would play, he would just make you laugh,” said Joanie Pallatto, co-owner of Southport Records, which released McClerkin’s critically applauded album The Power of One in the 1990s. “For Southport, he was our first-call pianist.”

McClerkin was loved in jazz circles for the virtuosity of his pianism.

“He had his own sound, really,” said Curtis Prince, who accompanied McClerkin on drums for more than three decades. “You’d hear a little bit of everybody in him. A little bit of Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, a little of Ahmad Jamal – all from Chicago.”

A memorial service is being planned.

Our condolences go out to Mr. and Mrs. McClerkin’s loved ones.