Our friend, percussionist Danny Kutz, 57, passed away on Oct. 6. He had been a Local 802 member since 1982.
Danny was a musical fixture for over 30 years in central New Jersey and New York City. Danny studied at Trenton State and Mannes School of Music. For the past 15 years he taught in the Woodbridge Township (New Jersey) school system as an instrumental music teacher.
His professional music life was eclectic. For 29 years he was the drummer for Plays in the Park in Edison, N.J., a tenure which is unequaled. Danny was the substitute drummer on several Broadway runs, most notably the original production of “Les Miserables” and the Nathan Lane revival of “Guys and Dolls.”
Starting out his professional career, Danny played in club bands along the Jersey coast and was in a touring band that traveled the U.S. Once off the road in the late 70’s, Danny became a founding member of the Garden State Percussion Trio, which continues today with new members presenting educational programs in schools. Danny has also been long associated with entertainer Bobby Byrne.
Besides Local 802, Danny was also a member of Local 204-373, which covers central New Jersey. He served as chair of the Theatre Committee of Local 204-373 for four years, where he helped frame the first collective bargaining agreement signed between Middlesex County and the musicians who performed for Plays in the Park.
On a personal note, Danny leaves behind a wonderful family and many friends who will miss him. He was completely without guile. You knew exactly who he was and he always told you the truth.
Danny was one of the nicest people you could ever meet and he was always a joy to be around. A sweetheart of a guy, a mensch. He was my good friend: “friend” describes the relationship I enjoyed with him and “good” describes the kind of person he was. So it goes.
I had the privilege and extreme pleasure of being a friend and colleague of Bob Smith, musician extraordinaire and lover of humor and its presence in daily life.
Not a night would go by (when we found ourselves on the same musical engagement) without an exchange of the latest jokes — either new, or, most likely, quite old. I always left the engagement feeling uplifted for the lack of a better description.
Musically he was a talented performer, well versed on the piano, vibes, trombone and even bass. During our 30 years of friendship, I never saw him give less than 100 percent to the music or to the other musicians on the bandstand.
Our contact went far beyond the bounds of musical compatriots as a strong friendship bore witness to. He is missed by many and especially myself and my family who recall his fond memory often.
— Artie Miller and Sabina Miller