RIP: Zane Musa (1979–2015)

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Zane Musa
Zane Musa on tenor sax performing “There Will Never be Another You” in 2012. Photo credit: Justin Steyer. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

One of the most talented saxophonists to emerge on the LA jazz scene in the past twenty years has left us. Zane Musa passed away tragically last week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He had just returned from performing with Arturo Sandoval’s band on a Caribbean jazz cruise. His family, friends, musicians, and fans alike are shocked and mourning his untimely death.

“Zane Musa [was] an incredible virtuoso of the saxophone. His versatility amazed me every time we played. It [was] an honor and a privilege to play alongside him.”—Arturo Sandoval

Zane Musa in RecordingI first met Zane Musa when Austin Peralta performed live in the KCRW studios for Rhythm Planet back in 2008. Austin was amazing and so was Zane. In 2012, wunderkind pianist Peralta passed away following a performance at the Blue Whale due to complications from pneumonia. He was 22-years-old. Now both Austin and Zane are sadly departed.

Musa had an edge to his sound—particularly on alto—combined with his superb technique and improvisational brilliance. He reminded me of former alto sax man, Eric Dolphy Jr. I last saw Zane perform at a Miguel Atwood Ferguson show at the Blue Whale just a few months ago. Zane played his ass off, and I complimented him afterwards. Zane would usually go off stage after his sets, light a cigarette, and deflect any compliments he’d been offered because he was always striving for a higher standard than wherever he currently was. He just had that kind of intensity and drive that made him seem more like a New York artist, although he was firmly rooted here in the LA jazz scene.

Introducing Zane Musa (2005)(The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I wasn’t the only one who noticed his special breed of talent. Zane was championed by trumpet legends Arturo Sandoval and Roy Hargrove, and played with big names like Macy Gray, Christina Aguilera, and John Mayall. He also played on the Jimmy Kimmel Live and Last Call with Carson Daly shows.

And yet despite working with all these top names, what Zane wanted more than anything was to create as an independent artist led by his own muse. Exceptionally talented and deeply committed to excellence, he produced one album in 2005, Introducing Zane Musa.

Zane was just 36-years-old—the same age as Eric Dolphy was when he died in 1964. Zane will be remembered by all. A memorial service will be held at the Sofitel Hotel on Monday, February 16. For more information, click here. In lieu of flowers, the Musa family has requested that tax-exempt check payments be made to The Charles (Dolo) Coker Jazz Foundation. Write “Zane Musa Scholarship” in the memo and send to:

The Charles Dolo Coker Jazz Scholarship Foundation Inc.
P.O. Box 480028
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Or, donations may be made at the Sofitel Hotel memorial on Monday, February 16.

Arturo Sandoval will also lead a Memorial Concert and Jam Session Celebrating the Life and Music of Zane Music at Catalina Bar & Grill on Tuesday, March 17. For more information, click here.

Zane Musa’s solo on Be Bop from Arturo Sandoval’s album Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You), released by Concord Jazz in 2012.

and his mellow tenor solo on the standard “There Will Never Be Another You”:

A live set Zane Musa and Austin Peralta did for Rhythm Planet at the KCRW studios on October 26, 2008. Thanks to Robert Lafond, KCRW’s videographer, for getting this up.

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