Charnett Moffett, the jazz bassist known for his virtuosity and versatility as both a bandleader and an accompanist, has died. He was 54.
Moffett died suddenly of a heart attack early Monday, April 11, according to publicist Lydia Liebman, who confirmed his death on Wednesday evening. He was with Jana Herzen, his wife of two years and musical collaborator of 12 years, at Stanford University Hospital in Stanford, Calif.
Born in New York in 1967, Moffett started out performing and recording with the family band in 1974, when he was only eight years old. He was the son of drummer Charles Moffett, Sr., and the younger brother of drummer Codaryl, singer Charisse, trumpeter Mondre, and tenor saxophonist Charles, Jr. He went on to study at Juilliard and was playing in Wynton Marsalis’s quintet by the time he was 16, playing with the trumpeter regularly in the mid-’80s.
Throughout his career, Moffett worked with an impressive array of iconic jazz musicians including Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman, Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Dianne Reeves, Stanley Jordan, Wallace Roney, Anita Baker, Arturo Sandoval, Courtney Pine, David Sanborn, Harry Connick, Jr., Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Kenny Garrett, Melody Gardot, Mulgrew Miller, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Carla Bley and Tony Williams.
“It is his adventurous bass playing that enraptures his audiences: intoxicating solos and an artistry built on the shoulders of so many jazz giants,” John Devenish wrote in 2017.