JAIME SUAREZ AUSTRIA
Jaime Suarez Austria, 62, a bassist and a Local 802 member since 1968, died on May 21.
Mr. Austria was born in Manila, the Philippines. As a child he studied piano, trumpet, accordion, and guitar. He fell in love with jazz – particularly Thelonious Monk – listening to Voice of America radio. A piano major at the University of the Philippines, he also studied double bass. In 1967, he began studying at the Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Austria began playing with the American Symphony Orchestra at age 22 under Leopold Stokowski. He played “A Chorus Line” from 1975 to 1990. He became a permanent member of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra in 1989, and New York City Opera Orchestra in 1993.
Later in life, Mr. Austria championed several causes. He spearheaded the “Informal Watchdog Network,” which scrutinized the AFM Pension Fund.
In 2007, he helped form “El Sistema N.Y.C.,” championing every child’s right to free music lessons.
His petition to establish a federal Secretary for the Arts has gathered more than 240,000 signatures to date.
Mr. Austria became a fierce advocate for quality public education for all children. He fought for child-centered schools and against standardized test-based instruction.
In 2009 he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He was under the care of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, whose holistic treatment was progressing successfully until complications from infections made him unable to comply with the protocol.
He is survived by his wife Christine and their children Ruben, John and Liza, and Liza’s husband Richard.
Danny Bank, 87, a saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist, died on June 5. He had been a Local 802 member since 1941. Early in his career Mr. Bank played with Charlie Barnet and would return to play with him repeatedly over the next few decades. He played with Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, and Paul Whiteman in the 1940’s. Following this he recorded with Charlie Parker, Rex Stewart, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Johnny Hodges, Urbie Green, Clifford Brown, Helen Merrill, Art Farmer, Wes Montgomery, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Smith, Chico O’Farrill, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, and Tony Fruscella. He also played with Duke Ellington.
Mr. Bank is best known for his association with Miles Davis in Gil Evans‘s orchestra. He appears on the albums “Miles Ahead,” “Sketches of Spain” and “Porgy and Bess.” He played with Davis on his 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. Later in the 1960’s he recorded with the big bands of Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Stanley Turrentine.
Obituary from Wikipedia
Stanley Martin “Kay” Kaufman, 86, died on June 21.
In his seven-decade career, Mr. Kaufman enjoyed success as a drummer, percussionist, artist manager, creative director, conductor, arranger and composer.
After serving in the Marines during World War II, Mr. Kaufman rose to musical prominence in the mid 1940’s as the backup drummer and manager for the Buddy Rich Band.
He was also drummer for such headline acts as Josephine Baker, Patty Page and Frankie Lane.
Mr. Kaufman was a creator, manager and conductor for the world-renowned dance act “Hines, Hines & Dad.” Later, he managed Maurice Hines as well as stars such as Michelle Lee and Paul Burke.
In the decades to follow, he worked as the entertainment director of the New York Yankees, a position he served with pride.
In 1992, Mr. Kaufman founded and was the creative force behind Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra.
He is survived by his sister Sybil, niece Mace and grand-niece Sybil Happy Goday.
Bert Kosow, 80, a member of Local 802 since 1947, died on April 1. Mr. Kosow was a saxophonist and clarinetist, but was best known for being a top music copyist.
Just after finishing high school, Mr. Kosow was already on the road with Carl Colby, playing all throughout the Midwest. Soon after, he was drafted into the Army, where he played in the Army Band, including a tour in Korea.
Later, he performed with Ray Eberle and Dick Maltby, before finally finding his true calling as a music copyist. He learned the art from Johnny Knapp and Bob Haring and went on to found Ideal Reproduction Service with Bernard Fox and Hal Miles.
As a copyist, Mr. Kosow worked for Leonard Bernstein, Alec Wilder, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the singing duo Sandler & Young, among many others. He worked in all genres: TV, Broadway, big bands, opera companies and symphonies.
He helped found the American Society of Music Copyists and became its president in 1968. As an artist, he also designed the society’s logo.
In 2004, he retired to Florida where he picked up the clarinet and bass clarinet to play in local bands.
“Bert was man of integrity, who valued family, friends, and the stories of their lives above all else,” wrote his wife Wilma in an e-mail to Allegro. “To spend time with him was to come away wiser and richer in spirit.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Kosow is survived by his sister Ruth, daughters Erica and Dina, grandchildren Laura, Joseph, Emily and Alyssa, and sons-in-law Joseph Messina and Daniel Sapen.
Mr. Kosow was considered a mentor in the field of music copying. See additional tributes to him in this issue’s Musicians’ Voice.
Kalmen Opperman, 90, a clarinetist and a Local 802 member since 1945, died on June 18.
Best known for being a master teacher of the clarinet, Mr. Opperman taught international soloist Richard Stoltzman, among many others.
As a teenager, Mr. Opperman studied with Simeon Bellison, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. Later, he studied with Ralph McLane, a revered player and teacher who later became the principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In 1938, Mr. Opperman successfully auditioned for the West Point Band, where he played for three years, ultimately serving seven years with Army bands.
His Broadway career followed, including nearly two dozen shows as principal clarinet, the last being the original production of “La Cage Aux Folles” in 1983. He was also principal clarinet for Ballet Theatre (later renamed American Ballet Theatre) and for the American tour of the Ballet de Paris. He taught and lectured widely, at symposiums and universities around the country.
Mr. Opperman became an expert in the mechanics of the clarinet. He often fabricated tuning barrels and mouthpieces – but only for his students. He wrote a series of widely used technical studies and the first authoritative guide to clarinet reeds.
Mr. Opperman was married three times and divorced twice. After an early marriage, he wed the former Prudence Ward. Their children, Rosie and Charles, survive him. Also surviving are his wife, the former Louise Cozze, and his brothers George and Melvin.
Edited from the New York Times
Benny Powell, 80, a legendary jazz trombonist and a member of Local 802 since 1954, died on June 26.
Mr. Powell is perhaps best remembered for his fine bop-tinged trombone work, and for his association with Count Basie’s “New Testament” big band, but he also performed and recorded with the bands of Thad Jones-Mel Lewis and Duke Pearson in the 1960’s, and played on Broadway and on television. He also worked closely with Dr. Billy Taylor as an administrator for Jazzmobile.
He made his professional debut at the age of 16 in King Kolax’s band, and went on to star with Lionel Hampton before moving to the Basie orchestra in October 1951. His eight-bar solo on the band’s 1955 recording of “April in Paris” distinguished him with jazz and non-jazz audiences alike, but his hundreds of large and small group recordings with a diverse body of jazz luminaries, including singers Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday, and with other Basieites Frank Foster and Frank Wess, propelled him to international fame. He won the Down Beat Critics’ Poll in 1956.
Mr. Powell was a vital force in the 1997 campaign that led to the union’s contract with jazz instructors at the New School. In the latter part of his career he was a core member of Randy Weston’s African Rhythms group, musicians with whom he toured for over 35 years. As recently as June 22, Mr. Powell performed in the CareFusion Jazz Festival in New York City.
Mr. Powell is survived by his sister Elizabeth Powell McCrowey, daughter Demetra Clay, grandchildren Kyle and Faith Swetnam and niece Lisa Dickerson. He is also survived by Barry Cooper, whom he considered a son.
Benny Powell’s life is far too rich to be condensed into this small space. To read Todd Bryant Weeks’s feature article on him from last fall, including a lengthy interview, click here.
Mr. Powell’s funeral will be held on Monday, July 12 at 7 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church (619 Lexington at 54th). The family suggests that contributions be made to an education fund for his grandchildren Kyle and Faith Swetnam in care of their grandmother, Evelyn Nolan, 2890 Emerald Spring Dr., Lawrenceville, GA 30095. For more information on this fund or on a future memorial concert planned for Mr. Powell, e-mail Devra Hall Levy at Devra@LushLife.com.
Ra’mon Quinones, 45, died on June 1. Mr. Quinones was a much beloved drummer on jazz bandstands, and appeared regularily at the Monday night jam sessions at Local 802, hosted by the Jazz Foundation of America.
Mr. Quinones appeared with his own groups, with the Youngbloods Jazz Quartet, and with Jazzmobile. He was an avid supporter of President Barack Obama, an active member of his church, and a loving husband.
Mr. Quinones supported Justice for Jazz Artists, Local 802 campaign’s that seeks pension and other benefits for working jazz musicians. He marched with other musicians last September for this cause.
Contributions may be sent to his wife Sandra via the Jazz Foundation of America, 322 West 48th Street, sixth floor, New York, NY 10036. For more information, contact Joe Petrucelli at (212) 245-3999, ext. 10 or Joe@JazzFoundation.org.
George Ricci, 87, a cellist and a Local 802 member since 1941, died on March 12.
Mr. Ricci was among the string players on the classic series of bossa nova albums of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Claus Ogerman in the 1960’s. He also performed with other top names in both popular music and jazz. Allegro was not able to discover any additional information about Mr. Ricci, including the names of any survivors. Members who know more can e-mail Allegro@Local802afm.org or call (646) 765-9663 or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036.
Jeff Tillman, 63, a guitarist and a member of Local 802 since 1971, died on March 30.
Jeff was a working musician in New York for his entire career, playing jazz dates, club dates, big band venues, high profile society events and many recording sessions.
“He was the consummate musicians, supremely skilled and a most marvelous human being who will be greatly missed by all those who knew him and loved him,” wrote Local 802 member Howard Tavin in a letter to Allegro.
Jeff is survived by his wife Denise, son Ross and brothers Matthew and Howie.
We also remember . . .
L.J. Drakes, trumpet
Myron Mendelsohn, sax
Marion Merrill, piano
Howard N Nelson, drums
To report the death of a member, please call Tamea Dunn at (212) 245-4802. Be sure to ask about any possible refund of Local 802 membership dues or about the union’s death benefit (there are certain eligibility requirements).
Spouses of deceased members should also call the AFM Pension Fund at (800) 833-8065, ext. 1311, to ask about any possible benefits.
To submit an obituary to Allegro, e-mail Allegro editor Mikael Elsila at Allegro@Local802afm.org or call (646) 765-9663.