Following up on last week's post about the retirement of veteran St. Louis jazz singer and pianist Jean Kittrell, you may recall a reference in that post to a press release sent out by the Sheldon Concert Hall announcing that pianist Pat Joyce would be replacing Kittrell on a show there due to "health concerns." At the time, I expressed the wish that those concerns would be quickly resolved so that Kittrell might enjoy her well-deserved retirement after more than 50 years of entertaining jazz fans in St. Louis and across the U.S.
Sadly, it looks as if those health problems may be quite serious, based on this article about Kittrell's retirement written by columnist Bob Fallstrom for the Decatur Herald & Review. In recounting his decades-long acquaintance with Kittrell, Fallstrom writes that she has been "hurting with leg problems, back problems and, lately, colon cancer" and recently had surgery.
In light of this news, we can only hope that the surgery was successful, and suggest that all of Kittrell's fans keep a good thought and/or offer a few prayers to your deity (or deities) of choice on her behalf. The article ends on a note of optimism, however, with Kittrell noting that her band the St. Louis Rivermen will fulfill all bookings under the leadership of tuba player David "Red" Lehr and adding, "I'm not upset about what's happened...The band is in good hands. I always intended to die on stage. We'll see. I hope to attend the Central Illinois Jazz Festival this winter."
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