Moses Musa Hollins passed on the evening of April 6th, 2008 after a long illness.
I had dinner with him a week before with Luke and Ian and Carrie and he was cheerful. As it was a Monday, we went to a frequent old haunt in South Chicago, the Soul Vegetarian Kitchen hoping to catch the open mic, but it was not on that eve. The visit before we went and sat at Starbucks in Hyde Park and looked out on a sidewalk he considered his own real estate, having worn a permanent spot there with many fellow musicians, Jumo Santos (sadly departed this past year) among them. I have lots to say about Musa and the gifts he gave me and the many children we found ourselves in front of..somehow as musicians/teachers. In short, he walked into my classroom at Sullivan House alternative high school in south Chicago five years ago and we became brothers. That day, in his charcoal voice he said “What the heck is that…” then he asked me to teach him to play a dijeridoo. Our appearance on WTTW Public TV in Chicago “Arts Across Illinois”, many One Drum shows, Reed College, The Field Museum, Beloit College, dozens of schools, co founder of the Jam Jazz Camp in Rockford now nearing 100 alumni. Personal mentor and jazz papa to a phat handful of jazz hotshots in my hometown. I found that his family knew little about this part of his life, having ridden through other times with him and when the illness came upon him they had already given him lots of space. He missed his grand daughter, Fanti, most of all. He counted among the high points of his musical life to have been admitted to the Illinois Arts Council ArtsTour roster as leader of The Healing Force Jazz Ensemble, (although the illness overtook him only weeks later) and the road trip he took with One Drum to Seattle, Olympia and Portland in 2005 with Dave Wake, Roman, Luke, Nick, Jahmes and me. Several people came to help take care of him at times the past two years, others were critical of them, but I think everyone did their best and Musa wouldn’t have wanted anyone to be mad at anyone. I miss him.
I have heard that after 21 days from the passing of a beloved family member, that there might be a gathering on the 21st day according to the Islamic tradition. Please if anyone has news of such a gathering, let me know.