We are sad to report the passing of Brother Lewis “Lew” Soloff, Alpha Nu (Eastman) 1961, who died of an apparent heart attack on Sunday, March 8 while walking in New York City with his daughter and her family. Brother Soloff first rose to fame playing lead trumpet with the group Blood, Sweat and Tears from 1968-1973. His iconic work in the group’s first megahit “Spinning Wheel” helped BS&T launch a string of Top 10 hits, culminating in the Grammy Award in 1970 for Best Album of the Year for their eponymous second album, which took the award over the Beatles album Abbey Road.
Blood, Sweat and Tears, founded by drummer Bobby Colomby, set out to combine the sophistication and musical skill required in jazz with the surging energy and popularity of rock & roll. By replacing rock’s heavy reliance on guitars with integrated horn arrangements and high quality jazz solos, the group created a new genre of “jazz-rock” music that helped add color to the musical landscape and laid the foundation for a more sophisticated sound and greater diversity in the popular music of the 1970’s.
Brother Soloff also played in Brother Clark Terry’s big band, and performed with many notable artists over the course of his career, including Frank Sinatra, Marianne Faithfull, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, Paul Simon and Barbra Streisand.
Lew Soloff added his signature sound to many classic performances, and helped expose a new generation to the elegance of jazz in an entirely new way. Brother Soloff was 71. He will be missed.