John Stubblefield

on a soft note held gently


 John Stubblefield, born 4th February, 1945b. 2/4/45 Little Rock, AR) was one of the most versatile musicians in jazz, an invaluable artist who expanded on the music´s potential from within the tradition. Stubblefield´s tenor and soprano saxophones told the story of four decades of diverse musical experience, from local R&B acts like Jackie Wilson and Solomon Burke (´64) through Chicago´s progressive Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (´67-´70) to freelancing in New York with the renowned Tito Puente (´72-´74) and Kenny Barron (´86() and everyone in between. Stubblefield´s adaptability and ease in any setting brought him calls from the World Saxophone Quartet (´86-´88), Reggie Workman (´89-´93), McCoy Tyner (´84 Clark), Freddie Hubbard (´85), and George Russell (´85). As a leader of his own quartet since the early ´80s, Stubblefield recorded for Enja and Soul Note.

John Stubblefield

At five minutes before seven on the evening of the 4th July 2005, after enduring great suffering with remarkable strength and courage, our beloved John Stubblefield left us on a soft note held gently at the end of a bitter sweet ballad.

Surrounded with love by wife Katherine Gogel, sister Joyce Pattillo, cousins Harry Stubblefield and Stephanie Barber, and by friends Rolando Briceño and Yvonne, John quietly passed away into paradise, where he will compose brilliant works and perform music to fill the universe with love, hope and joy. We will continue to be inspired by John's generosity of spirit, his for ever glowing soul, and the vision of John's smiling face, which always lights up the lives of everyone he encountered.

Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts about how John touched your lives.

May peace be with us all.

Sincerely, Katherine, Joyce, Harry and Stephanie

Katherine Gogel
5 Granison Road Weston, MA  02493 email:

27th June 2005

Since the 3rd April 2004, John Stubblefield has been hospitalized with prostate cancer. I have been with him most of the time. Now I am with John day and night.

John is now here at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. John is very quiet these days. He also eats very little food and drinks a little water. On the 19th May 2005, John's blood pressure dropped drastically to 60 over 40. He was listed as critical. We expected that we had very little time left with John. Recently, John has been taken off the critical list. Just the same, I stay with John day and night. We still take each moment as it comes.

Some great things have happened since John was first hospitalized. In September 2004, we went to Symphony Space in Manhattan, where the Mingus Big Band was performing at a John Kerry fund raiser. John was on stage with the band, sitting in his wheelchair, microphone in front of him. He recited "Don't Let It Happen Here". John felt really good about being back on stage with the band again and feeling the music so close.

In October 2004, we went to the recording studio where Sue Mingus had assembled the Mingus Big Band to record "Song With Orange", "Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk", and "Pedal Point Blues", all arranged by John. During this six-hour session, John conducted the band. The recording was released on 7th June 2005. We have been hearing good reviews about John's arrangements.

On 4th February 2005, John's sister Joyce had organized a surprise birthday party for John at the apartment of Sue Mingus. Many of John's friends and family members were there. The apartment was bursting. He was indeed surprised.

While John was at the nursing home, he completed writing a 4th arrangement to a Mingus composition: "Prayer For Passive Resistance".  The band has performed it and John made sure they did it right after hearing the tapes. One day Boris Kozlov came with the orchestral score and they made final corrections.

On the 23rd May 2005, Pastor Lind from Saint Peter's church in Manhattan came to bless John. After the blessing, John wanted to phone my mother. When we put her on, he asked her: "May I have permission to take your daughter's hand in marriage?" We were all surprised and touched. Joyce and Rolando Briceño were there. Pastor Lind ministered the marriage ceremony. It was really sweet and brought much joy.

Here at Calvary Hospital, John has received two very prominent visitors, bringing joy and excitement to all those around. In March, Bill Cosby arrived one morning, taking John completely by surprise. He was most delightful and even took time to look in on other patients.

On Thursday, the 16th June 2005, President Clinton arrived to visit John. It was a gorgeous visit, making so many people happy. Clinton spoke of his saxophones. He has not been able to play since three years, having written his book and then undergoing the heart surgery.   Clinton also visited patients on his way out. Many have come from near  and far to visit John since April 2004. We are grateful for all your support and healing thoughts. John is very quiet now. We like to hold hands and smile at each other.

All we want is peace.

Thank you and be well.


Many thanks to Rene Laanen for forwarding these tributes