Jazz procession for Jack McCray hits perfect pitch

Published: Nov. 15, 2011 at 11:52 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2011 at 1:26 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It was Jack McCray's passion. The brass, the woodwind, and the percussion of jazz music. And fittingly, the streets of downtown Charleston transformed into those of New Orleans to pay a tribute to the late jazz icon who transformed a genre of music in the Lowcountry.

"I'm sure Jack was watching and smiling," says his first cousin Lee Bennett. 
The procession line was longer than a soulful trumpet solo and it zig zagged from Laurens Street to Calhoun ending at the "Mother" Emanuel A.M.E. church for friends and family to say good bye to McCray for the last time.

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"Jack was always ahead of his time," says Bennett. "We considered him to be a renaissance man."

More than 100 people made the walk through Charleston behind McCray.

Jack was born October 30, 1947 as the eldest of two sons. After leaving Burke High School for Brooklyn Friends in New York City for a better education, McCray returned to Charleston and brought jazz with him.

And those around him felt his love for music.

"It meant so much to me today to be apart of this," says long time friend Mizar Barashango.

"Jack loved jazz with all his heart and soul," says Barashango. "Today reminded me of some of the times I marched with some of the greats in the city of New Orleans... When one of the jazz greats would leave, this is how it was done.
McCray's work will live on long after the songs echo from his procession through the streets of Charleston. The Jazz Artists of Charleston, a group he co-founded, says they will continue to play loud and proud for McCray.
Jack McCray was found dead at his Coming Street apartment Wednesday at the age of 64. The Charleston County Coroner says he passed away from natural causes sometime Monday afternoon.

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