I am deeply saddened by the passing of Barrie Lee Hall who died today at 61. Hall was a musical icon not just in Houston, but the world over. Duke Ellington hand-picked the young trumpeter to join his trumpet section while Hall was still in college. He went on to lead Ellington’s band, win Grammy’s, tour the world, and do incredible work archiving Ellington’s collection. He was also an in-demand sideman working with Kenny Garrett, Patti La Belle and many others.

I played in Barrie’s band in 1987. We had a steady gig every Sunday afternoon at a forgettable club called Panache. Despite the surroundings, he showed up to play. You could hear the influence of his idols: Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and Miles. Yet he had a sound uniquely his own too.

Here’s a clip of that band when we appeared on a local morning talk show.

Barrie inspired me, mentored me, and blew my mind each week with the most inspiring, soulful solos I’ve ever heard. I am so grateful for that experience and for knowing him all the years since.

Barrie Lee Hall: Legend. May you rest in peace friend.

Condolences to Barrie’s amazing wife Lula in her time of grief.