Soul and jazz instrumentalist KEVIN TONEY died on Monday, 18th March. He was 70 and his family posted the following statement: “After a brief battle with cancer, our beloved Kevin Toney peacefully transitioned on Monday March 18th, 2024. We want to thank our village for their prayers, love, and support over the last few months. The family requests privacy during this time.

A native of Detroit and primarily a keyboardist, Toney studied music theory and composition at Howard University. It was there that he came to the attention of Donald Byrd who built a band around Toney’s talents. That band  were, of course, the Blackbyrds – jazz funk brand leaders!

After the Blackbyrds, Toney pursued a successful solo career  with albums like ‘Special K’ and ‘Lovescape’ winning critical acclaim. In the new millennium, his tune ‘Strut’ became part of the chosen original music of the 2002 Winter Olympics. As a session player, Toney worked with people like Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Isaac Hayes and Aretha Franklin. Kevin also produced his  daughter Dominique’s debut album, ‘A Love Like Ours’ (2014)

African music maker, GEORGE DARKO (above) died on Wednesday, 20th March. He was aged 73 and he’d been in hospital palliative care for some time.

Born in Ghana, George was a singer/songwriter/guitarist who helped popularize the hi-life musical genre. His 1984  recording ‘Hi Life Time’ became a popular tune on the London jazz/soul dance scene in the 80s. It was championed by plenty of top  DJs including Robbie Vincent.