Beatrice

From the Miles Davis listserv this morning comes the sad news of the passing of Beatrice Rivers . Hers is a name that might not immediately be recognized by jazz fans except in abbreviation. She is the Bea of the RivBea Orchestras and of Studio RivBea, the New York loft at which so much great music — and arguably, a scene — was born in the 1970s.

I met Bea once, when her husband of 56 years, the protean Sam Rivers, blessed my little community in flyover country with a concert some years back. I was allowed to join the hangers on for a pre-concert dinner at which Bea’s charm. modesty and good cheer cast a beneficent glow over everyone. Sam delighted in her company, as we all did. It was clear that she meant the world to him and my thoughts and prayers go out to this great man on his very great loss.

Even if you didn’t know Bea, her graceful and gentle spirit is present in Sam’s ballad, “Beatrice.” To these ears, it’s one of the finest jazz lines of the last half century, and it’s never sounded as beautiful or moving as it does this morning.