Onaje Allan Gumbs

Onaje Allan Gumbs was born Allan Bentley Gumbs on September 3, 1949 and died April 6, 2020. He was a New York-based composer, pianist, and leader. Leroy Kirkland introduced Gumbs in 1971 to Kenny Burrell as a Detroit guitarist. Onaje then gave Burrell a demo tape. Gumbs was called to play at Burrell’s Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit the next day. Further performances were possible with other jazz musicians, including bassist Larry Ridley and The Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra. Gumbs was Nat Adderley, Jr.’s replacement in the early 1970s. In the span of two years, the group had some members including drummer Buddy Williams, bassist Alex Blake and trombonist Earl McIntyre. T. S. Monk was the drummer. Gumbs adopted the name “Onaje” in the 1970s. It means “the sensitive one”. His association with the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, New York, and his work at the Litchfield Jazz Camp, New Milford, Conn. allowed him to broaden his vision and help shape young minds. Gumbs had a stroke on January 24, 2010. He stayed in hospital for just two days, which is amazing. In Japan, Just Like Yesterday was released by December the same year. Gumbs was joined by Victor Bailey, Omar Hakim and Chuggy Carter on this CD. Since then, there were no visible signs of stroke. He suffered another setback in February 2015. He was admitted for two weeks and eventually recovered. After that, he was able to go back to work and continue to do what he loves best: compose, arrange, and play piano. Onaje Allan Grubs, 70, died in April 2020.

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