The jazz and classical music artist Robert ‘Brother Ah’ Northern has died at the age of 86.
Northern passed away on May 31 in Washington, with his wife, Ayana Watkins-Northern, telling The New York Times that the cause of death was a respiratory illness that he had been battling for about a year.
Northern was an accomplished French horn player, and played on such classic jazz records as ‘The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall’, John Coltrane’s ‘Africa/Brass’ and Charlie Haden’s ‘Liberation Music Orchestra’. He was also a member of the experimental group Sun Ra’s Arkestra for a decade, saying of his time in the band: “It wasn’t like a jazz band, this was like an orchestra. And I went wild.”
As a bandleader, Northern, who adopted his Brother Ah moniker in the early 1970s after it was coined by his students at Dartmouth College, released a number of albums, including 1972’s ‘Sound Awareness’, ‘Move Ever Onward’ (1975) and ‘Key to Nowhere’ (1983).
As well as his career in music, Northern was renowned in Washington D.C. as a DJ of jazz and spiritual music on the community FM station WPFW.
Northern’s work as an educator included a stint teaching at Dartmouth College, and he continued to teach in schools and youth programs until shortly before he died.