Two members of jazz musician Chuck Mangione's band were among those who died in the Continental Airlines flight that crashed into a home near Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday night.
Publicist Sanford Brokaw said Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett were among the 49 people on the plane that was headed to Buffalo Niagara International Airport from Newark, N.J. One person on the ground also perished.
Mangione's band was scheduled to perform Friday night with the Buffalo Philharmonic, but the concert was cancelled.
"I'm in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy of the crash of Flight 3407, which took the lives of my dear friends and band members Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett,'' Mangione said in a statement released Friday.
"I am grieving and praying with their families and friends.''
Niewood, 64, was a childhood friend of Mangione — both grew up in Rochester, N.Y. and played together in a 10-piece band in high school.
Niewood played alto, tenor, baritone and soprano sax, as well as piccolo, clarinet and alto and bass flute.
He lived in Glen Ridge, N.J., and backed some of biggest names in pop music, including Peggy Lee, Anne Murray, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Judy Collins and Frank Sinatra.
Returns to music
After getting a degree in industrial relations from the State University of New York in Buffalo, he decided to return to music and picked up a music degree in 1970 from the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.
"I just followed the path of least resistance and got back into music," Niewood told the Democrat and Chronicle, a Rochester newspaper, in 1977. "And I've never worried about another career since."
Niewood met his wife, Gurly, at the school of music. They have a son and daughter.
"He was totally thrilled and happy to be a working musician," Jeff Tyzik, principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, told the Democrat and Chronicle.
"He was a very selfless player. He had all of the technical know-how in the world, and he really tried to make magical music on everything he played."
Niewood left Mangione's quartet in 1976, after eight years and formed his own jazz-fusion quartet to play in New York City.
He released his first album, Gerry Niewood and Timepiece, in 1977. Niewood released several other albums over the years. His final release, Facets in 2004, includes his son Adam, himself a sax player.
Guitarist was married to Dizzy Gillespie's daughter
Mellett, 33, of East Brunswick, N.J., had been touring with Mangione's band for almost 10 years. The guitarist released his first CD in 2007 titled Natural High.
While performing in 1999 on a Manhattan cable TV program, Mellett caught the eye of Mangione, who was looking for a guitar player. Mellett was invited to audition and was hired to be the substitute for Mangione's longtime guitarist, Grant Giessman. After two years, Chuck invited Mellett to be a permanent member of the group.
Mellett, who had a master's degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music, was married to Jeanie Bryson, the daughter of legendary jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie.