August 21, 2014 |
WHEN THE children of the Blake household in South Philly turned 6, they took piano lessons. "There were no ifs, ands or buts about it," said one of those kids, Charlotte Blake Alston. "You played the piano. " It was an edict from their mother, Carrie Blake, a church organist who knew the value of music to the human soul. Their father was a very literate letter carrier. Another of Carrie's children was John Blake Jr., who became an internationally renowned jazz violinist. He always acknowledged that his love of music began in the pews of Holy Trinity Baptist Church in South Philadelphia.
November 7, 2013 |
IF HIS SMILE was like a warm hug, as a fan put it, his piano playing was like a mellow caress. Father John D'Amico was not only an outstanding jazz pianist who gathered fans wherever he played throughout the city, but he was also a warm and fuzzy friend and a man devoted to social causes. When he died Thursday in Lankenau Hospital, doctors and nurses wept. "They really loved him," said his wife, Kathleen. "He was the kind of person you really liked. Since he died, I've been getting hundreds of messages.
January 31, 2013 |
Jef Lee Johnson, 54, a Philadelphia guitar virtuoso who played with musicians from McCoy Tyner to Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey and who was renowned for his command of a variety of styles, died Monday, Jan. 28. He died at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, said his brother, James. The cause was complications from pneumonia and diabetes, according to his Belgium-based management company. "He was a soft-spoken genius that made every musician around him better," the Philadelphia trombonist and bandleader Jeff Bradshaw said.
December 2, 2012
A sharp intellectual and neighborhood champion, former City Councilman Edward A. Schwartz died last week at age 69. Swept into office in 1983, when Philadelphia elected its first African American mayor, W. Wilson Goode, Schwartz brought his unique brand of community activism into City Hall. An early adapter to computers, he set up a clunky one in Council chambers for mid-1980s budget hearings so he could analyze the administration's math. He used the Internet to organize grassroots activists and spread the reach of his Institute for the Study of Civic Values, which he founded in 1973.
April 14, 2012 |
George Mesterhazy, 58, of Cape May, a Hungarian-born, Grammy-nominated jazz musician, died at home in his sleep early Thursday of what longtime life partner Vicki Watson called natural causes. Mesterhazy's selfless attitude when playing and composing music made him the perfect fit for renowned jazz singers for decades. He translated this musical quality into everyday life, leaving a legacy of generosity on and off the bandstand. "He is, by far, the most inspirational piano player I've ever worked with," said cabaret and jazz singer Paula Johns, with whom Mesterhazy worked for more than 20 years.
March 26, 2012 |
Virginia Price Childs, 89, a whiz with needle and thread, playful musician, and tireless volunteer for her Quaker community, died Thursday, March 22, of heart failure at Stapeley in Germantown, a retirement community. Known as "Dinnie" (from a childhood mispronunciation of Ginnie), Mrs. Childs was born in Mount Airy and lived most of her life there before moving to Stapeley with her husband, Jack, in 2005. A 1940 graduate of Germantown Friends School and 1944 graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., she was a lifelong supporter of both institutions, and of the Germantown Monthly Meeting.
March 19, 2012 |
YOU AIN'T heard nothing like "rockjazz" musician ELEW - the torrent of power and passion kicking out the jams tonight for the "Live from Loews" (hotel) monthly concert series. The press release bills it as an "intimate live performance. " Don't they know what they're really getting here? Standing/dancing at his Yamaha piano, with legs fanned out like a sumo wrestler and arms encrusted with metallic "vambrace" armor, the man truly attacks his keyboard. The left hand pounds bass lines with such fervor you'll never notice there's no drummer.
June 18, 2007 |
The house lights never dimmed at the Keswick Theatre on Friday night. Chick Corea and B?la Fleck preferred it that way: no concert-hall austerity, no darkness, but instead an informal living-room atmosphere. In this acoustically superb space, every nuance from Corea's piano and Fleck's banjo leapt from the stage, magnified and unblemished. Banjo? Not what you'd expect at a jazz gig. But Fleck has brought a new improvisational range to the instrument while preserving its backwoods flavor.
October 24, 2004 |
"Your collection could be completely filled with nothing but Ray Charles music," the singer and songwriter Tom Waits mused recently, "and you'd have a fairly complete picture of American music. "You want jazz, there is jazz from him that's not just showroom material, but playing on a we-mean-business level. You want anything in R&B, he is of course the source. He was the one to recognize that you can't really sing country unless you can sing the blues. . . . What's remarkable about it is in his mind it was all music, it all nourished him the same way. " And, crucially, Charles approached all of the music he tackled in the same way. Regardless of the style, Charles sang as though determined to open up lines of communication beyond mere words.
January 30, 2003 |
Russell C. Tibbetts, 74, a retired insurance executive, barbershop quartet singer, and a jazz pianist, died Saturday of cancer at his home in Upper Providence, Delaware County. A native of Squantum, Mass., Mr. Tibbetts began playing jazz piano as a student at North Quincy High School. He continued to play while earning a bachelor's degree at Boston University. While serving in the Army in Japan after World War II, he played in the Officers' Club and for a drum-and-bugle corps. In the 1940s, he began his business career as a field salesman with Standard Accident Insurance Co. in Boston and moved to Philadelphia in the 1950s to work for Reliance Insurance Co. He retired in 1988 as president of Reliance Special Risk, a Reliance subsidiary.