Among the many souvenirs of his half century as a music producer, manager, writer and activist, Marty Khan also has a collection of sculptures carved in ebony by the Makonde people of Tanzania, among them, one that resembled both Rodin’s “The Thinker” and his longtime friend and client Makanda Ken McIntyre. One bright and sunny day in June 2001, Khan picked up the phone to call McIntyre, when he heard a rumble in the mountains near his Tucson home. “It was this really deep rumble like thunder,” Khan remembered. “All of a sudden, a wind picks up that sculpture and smashes it on the floor, and the head breaks off. A half hour later we get a call from [producer] Steve Rowland, his brother-in-law, to tell us that Makanda just passed.”
It was a characteristic move for McIntyre, the composer and instrumentalist who shunned the spotlight but still projected his formidable intellect and influence on the jazz seen as an educator and mentor. Yet like the thunder in the Arizona mountains, McIntyre’s presence continues to be felt, as it will be in Cleveland Thursday when the 13-piece Makanda Project big band roars into Bop Stop playing a book of his unpublished compositions.