‘Murray Rothstein: I am going to miss him’

Volume 119, No. 11December, 2019

Ray Cohen

I first met Murray Rothstein when I was in my early 20s. We spent five summers playing together in the Mac Pollack Orchestra at a Catskill resort, and I learned so much from him during that time – not only about all aspects of music, but also about what it takes to be a successful professional musician.

Apart from his obvious love of music, Murray had an amazing knowledge of mathematics and science. His lovely New Jersey home had a large room set aside for an impressive display of state-of-the-art computers and electronic equipment. Simply put, he was a man of many varied interests with a constantly curious mind.

Muriel was his beloved wife and soulmate of many years. They loved traveling together, usually to exotic locations such as the Galapagos Islands, and parts of Africa that saw few tourists. Their common interest in animals and birds (they had a serious aviary in their backyard) led to a growing passion for nature photography, which earned them considerable acclaim in the field.

Murray and I shared a love of baseball going back to our roots in Brooklyn in the 1950s, but more recently as ardent Mets fans. We often enjoyed discussing the team’s accomplishments or lack thereof, although he was wisely leery of my unbridled optimism about the team’s prognosis for the future. Regardless, we would still have a good time just talking baseball on the phone.

Musically, Murray was a pro’s pro – a versatile, excellent reader and faker who consistently performed at the highest level in any genre. He could play impeccable lead trumpet for any show or act – even when the charts were challenging. He generously introduced me to many good tunes from his vast repertoire (“Lush Life,” for one, which he always played in Eb) and so many other gems that immediately elicit fond thoughts of Murray when I play or hear them.

He was my mentor, my colleague and – best of all – my friend for over 55 years, and I am going to miss him.

Pianist Ray Cohen has been a member of Local 802 since 1954.

(Also read Bobby Shankin’s tribute to Murray Rothstein here)