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Why Musicians Dug Mazique

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To the editors:

Thank you for Pat Brennan's moving reminiscence that captured the infectious joy and humble swagger that was Doug Mazique's gift to all who knew him, or heard him play [Our Town, September 18].

Bill Wyman's piece on Chicago musicians who died in one tragic week [Hitsville, September 18] had a staggering impact, though one clarification needs to be made in his paragraph on Doug.

Those who never heard Doug will find Wyman's term "journeyman bassist" misleading, for there was nothing routine or merely competent in Doug's playing. In a quarter century of performing and recording, I never met a finer musician than Doug Mazique. His understanding of pop styles--blues, country, rock, reggae, zydeco, Top 40, you-name-it--was complete, both intellectually and viscerally. He was a master of his instrument and was a great singer. He always made those who played with him a little better, by his joy, his focus, his energy, his understanding of the music, and his gentle way of sharing his knowledge with others.

Of course, I am speaking as someone who knew and loved Doug for many years. We played in our first band together in 1963 (Doug played trumpet back in eighth grade); played in pickup bands for sock hops throughout high school; dropped out of college at the same time to help form the ten-piece jazz-rock group Sun; in the early 70s we toured the states and recorded for Capricorn with Ned (whose members flew in from all over the country for Doug's funeral). Doug was a part of Rokko & the Hat in its Lincoln Avenue heyday and lately played and sang with June Shellene and me in The Recyclers, an oldies band that played every few months, and was as much fun as any band I've been in (because of Doug).

The qualities that made Doug a great bass player made him a great friend: he was always there when you needed him, always supportive, he brought out the best in you. Anyone who ever met him felt the same way. The bullet that killed Doug wounded many others as well. For us, life will go on, but it will never be the same.

Alaric Rokko Jans

W. Eastwood

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