The writing of any obituary is done with a heavy heart, but it becomes an even more heartbreaking task in a case like last week, when four big deal contributors to jazz passed away in a three-day period.

The first to come to my attention was pianist Cedar Walton, who passed on Aug. 19 in his Brooklyn home at the age of 79.

I recently saw Walton as part of the Jazz Piano Summit at the Blue Note Jazz Festival (June 22) with Barry Harris. Following the untimely death of Mulgrew Miller, this performance was in Miller’s honor and featured Harris sitting in.

Walton, the consummate accompanist, exhibited himself as one of the great pianists, composers and bandleaders in jazz. He was honored as an NEA Jazz Master in 2010.

His cascading flow of rhythmic notes is like opening a door on a warm breezy day; listeners can’t touch it, but it has such a warm, swinging feeling. Listen to his composition “Fantasy in D” (also called “Ugetsu”), which was recorded and arranged during his stint with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

He joined Blakey the same day as trumpeter Freddie Hubbard that included Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller in the early 1960s. [ED NOTE: Sentence missing words?

After one of Walton’s performances, I told him that his album “Soundtakes” was one of my favorites. He looked at me and responded in a stern voice, “Young man, the name of the album is ‘Soundscapes.’” Then, with a smile, Walton said, “So what is your favorite tune?”

There are a number of favorites to choose from when discussing Walton’s more than 400 recordings—including the 60 he made as a bandleader.

In April 1959, he recorded “Giant Steps” with John Coltrane. Unfortunately, when Coltrane was ready to record the album, Walton was out of town, and Tommy Flanagan sat in. Alternate takes with Walton have since been released.

Walton recorded with Ornette Coleman, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Heath, Abbey Lincoln, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Christian McBride, longtime collaborator Billy Higgins and Ron Carter.

One headline that caught my attention was the passing of author, jazz/literary critic and educator Albert Murray on Aug. 18 in his Harlem home at the age of 97.

Coincidentally, I had just purchased his book “Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography of Count Basie,” which Murray had helped pen and am now reading his book “RiffTide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones,” which is edited by Paul Devlin.

Murray’s “Stomping the Blues” has become a jazz bible for fans and musicians alike.

Murray was one of the last surviving connections to the post-Harlem Renaissance period during the 1950s and ’60s, when the Civil Rights Movement was gathering steam and Black power boiled over into a new concept of identity and political power.

Murray was an active member of this debate along with writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin and his good friend Ralph Ellison and artist Romare Bearden.

He wrote more than a dozen books, beginning in 1970 with “The Omni-Americans: Black Experience and American Culture,” which was a critique of both Black separatism and white establishment ideas of the “dysfunction” of the Black community.

“His celebrations of blues-based music as Black American music made him an abiding celebrant of life in Black America, and especially of Harlemites, as rich in styles and values for disciplined living,” stated Robert O’Meally, Columbia University professor and founder of the Jazz Studies Program.

Murray, along with writer Stanley Crouch and trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis, was actively involved in the creation of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

A friend of mine called regarding Marian McPartland, the pianist and composer who will be most remembered for her weekly internationally syndicated NPR show “Piano Jazz.” She died on Aug. 20 at her home in Port Washington, N.Y. She was 95.

Like Murray, McPartland lived a long, prosperous life doing what she loved to do while giving her time and support to young, aspiring musicians.

She last performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. She had to be assisted to the piano, but once there, McPartland was at home; she sang with a swinging, vibrant voice while displaying her humorous wit.

“Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” began on June 4, 1978, and lasted until 2011. It is the longest-running cultural program on NPR. The show was a unique experience for the guests and listeners that featured a mix of conversation and music that often featured duets with McPartland.

Her most memorable line was “Shall we play that one together?” Her duets were an improvisational work of art. If you could play with pianist Cecil Taylor, you had to be good.

In 1958, Art Kane, a freelance photographer for Esquire, took a group photograph of 57 notable jazz musicians in front of a Harlem brownstone (17 E. 126th St.). McPartland one of the few women in the picture; she stood next to her fellow pianist Mary Lou Williams. The photo, called “A Great Day in Harlem,” became the subject of Jean Bach’s 1994 documentary with the same title.

McPartland was born in the United Kingdom and came to the U.S. in 1946. In 1953-1954, she appeared as a regular on NBC’s “Judge for Yourself,” a quiz program emceed by Fred Allen.

She was an NEA Jazz Master (2000) and was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 New Year Honours “for services to jazz and to aspiring young musicians in the USA.”

In 1969, she founded her own record label, Halcyon Records, before having a long association with the Concord Jazz label.

On November 10, 2011, NPR announced McPartland’s retirement from the program. Jon Weber stepped into McPartland’s shoes. The show was renamed “Piano Jazz Rising Stars.”

The drummer Papa Jo Jones stated, “There are lots of musicians, but few stylists.” These are a few of the stylists. Their words and music will endure the test of time and will inspire future generations.