The Detroit Jazz legend with a colorful career and a beautiful protégé dies due to lung affliction at the age of 78.
Marcus Belgrave was born in Pennsylvania and since he was a child, he knew he was destined to pay an instrument. His father was somewhat of an amateur musician himself and he started playing the bugle and the trumpet and learned the Charlie Parker bebop from cousin Cecil Payne, baritone saxophonist who played with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. He began his formal learning at age 12 and was taken under the wing by Clifford Brown.
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Belgrave played in New York with Ray Charles and according to his own narrative, Marcus was fast due to his inclination towards bebop melodies. He would have played six noted when Ray reached one and Ray Charles recorded special bebop songs with Marcus.
Even with his unique style so much loved and demanded, Marcus returned to Detroit to keep Jazz alive in the city. Since then Marcus has recorded with Jazz legends such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Cocker and Motown artists galore. The star was always seen with his trumpet and complimented by his husky voice.
The art flourished with his age and he became a mentor, a performer and a teacher. Marcus once said that he’d rather become a catalyst rather than being famous and he became the common factor in Jazz musicians’ accounts and contribution to their art.
Marcus had been in and out of medical care in the past few years but even then he never missed a chance to play and the doctors were adamant that playing made him feel better. His style, even when faltering a little, was graceful and sophisticated. Marcus knew how to touch the soul with his playing.
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Alas, Marcus is no longer with us. He passed away at the age of 78 on May 24th at the Glacier Hills care facility in Ann Arbor, according to Detroit Free Press. Even though he has died, Marcus’ legacy remains behind in the vast body of his protégé and his lovers who will always remember and love his soulful tunes.