Photo courtesy of Brenda Ladd
Saxophonist Alex Coke cherished a long and illustrious friendship with Austin jazz pianist and composer Rich Harney, who recently died of a heart attack in early January. The pair collaborated for over 45 years from when they first met in a communal house on Nueces Street in the 1970s. With nothing but a thin door between their rooms, Coke always heard when Harney began his early morning practicing, and the two soon recognized kindred musical spirits in each other. They made a number of records together, played countless gigs and started groups like the Worthy Constituents.
Coke honored Harney’s memory with a musical memorial held at the Elephant Room on Sunday, March 1 organized by fellow Austin musician Michael Mordecai. The concert featured a slew of Harney’s friends and colleagues, including pianist Andy Wehl, bassist Daniel Durham and drummer Daniel Dufour. Some musicians traveled across the continent to join the celebration, which took place during Harney’s usual set time at the venue. The night’s performances drew from the abundance of original material that Harney penned during his life.
Ahead of the Sunday night show, Coke and pianist Peggy Stern visited Studio 1A where they played three Harney originals, with Coke on saxophone and flutes.
— Annie Lyons, KUTX Intern