I was saddened to learn of trombonist Benny Powell's transition. Benny was a friend and a consummate artist, who fought the "good fight," astute, well-rounded, Benny was a proud native of New Orleans and comfortable on the world stage whether as a much sought after side-man or leader. He executed his craft skillfully, always comporting himself as a man of great dignity, class and grace.
I met Benny in the 80s through our joint work with the American Federation of Musicians union Local 802’s Justice for Jazz Committee's efforts to change New York City’s archaic cabaret laws, which limited musicians in their ability to earn full wages and benefits they deserve. Benny was among the early wave of musician activists leaders who pressed for needed changes in the City’s restrictive cabaret laws. His and the efforts of his comrades opened new opportunities for jazz musicians in NYC and the work continues.
A highly trained world-class musician in the classical sense of it's best meaning, Benny Powell remained committed to his music; always growing, learning, expanding his knowledge by teaching, mentoring, composing and collaborating. We last spoke in late 2009 about my wish to record a great song he had composed that I love. Benny made a difference with his life through sharing his music and his irrepressible gift of inspiration with countless musicians and music lovers throughout the world, Benny Powell will surely be missed. Well-done Benny! RIP.