An icon passes: Faruq Z. Bey
Saxophonist-composer-poet symbolized a movement
Published: June 6, 2012
One only had to listen to him for a few notes to realize that he was coming from a very, very deep place. He had this unique tone on his sax that was both warm and agitated. You could feel his pain, but you were also mesmerized by the depth of his heart. His sound was bigger than life. It had me in a trance every time he played.
He played with his oxygen tank right up to the end. That says it all.
From Gilda Snowden, artist, who sought advice from Bey on how to get the natural, dreadlock hairstyle (another way in which Bey was a local pioneer):
At first he wouldn't share the secret with me, saying, "Why do you want to go through all this?" When I pleaded with him to share "the way," he then told me to just "be natural, don't force it, let it flow."
It occurred to me much later that what he was telling me about the rediscovery of my hair also was a template for the creation of art.
From Tyrone Williams, poet:
He was a generous man, a giant talent as humble and as wickedly funny as any musician I've known.
From jazz historian Jim Gallert:
A conversation with Faruq always raised my intellectual level. I know he scuffled the last few years, probably longer, but his spiritual strength and musical resolve never wavered.
From M.L. Liebler:
Faurq Z. Bey was my hero first who became my close friend in the mid-1980s. ... We traveled together, we wrote together, we yelled at each other, we talked for hours about everything from Rush Limbaugh's idiocy (he loved talk radio) to gossiping about our friends, about our shared deep faith in God, and in many ways we saved each other.
From Melba Joyce Boyd, Wayne State University faculty member and poet:
He impacted our consciousness and our creativity. We are who we are because he was who he was.
From Skeeter Shelton, saxophonist and frequent bandmate, who compared the loss to losing his father, the drummer Ajaramu:
I just can't believe it — my big brother is gone. I can't stop crying.
From Mike Johnston, Northwoods Improvisers bassist and bandmate:
I believe that Faruq was a real giant, a master of communication via the spoken word or the played soulful note. ... Frequently when someone would ask Faruq if he wanted to attempt to play something he would respond: "I ain't scared."
W. Kim Heron is editor of Metro Times. See metrotimes.com to see more (or add to) comments about Faruq Z. Bey's life and art, also for links to past coverage, videos and audios
> Email W. Kim Heron