John Danser, 79, a clarinetist and saxophonist, died on July 22. He had been a Local 802 member since 1952.
After emigrating from London at the age of 14, Mr. Danser quickly established himself in New York City at a young age. He earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and played all over town, both in classical and jazz circles, while also arranging and composing. Later, he enlisted in the Army and was eventually appointed a bandleader for several of the Army bands.
Mr. Danser played in the Catskills during the famous Borscht Belt era, serving as bandleader at the Concord Hotel, where he played for Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Milton Berle and Bob Hope. He played in Xavier Cugat’s band in Atlantic City, conducted Gene Krupa’s band, and wrote an overture for a 30-piece orchestra for the Sophie Tucker show.
He was also a hard-working club date musician, playing high society events, celebrity weddings and even bar mitzvahs. Mr. Danser also composed several classical works, including his “Concertina for Violin and Band,” which was commissioned by violinist Max Pokolef.
Mr. Danser added another chapter to his musical life when he formed an avant-garde jazz ensemble and a fusion band in the 1960s and 70s. He is survived by his daughter Jessica, son-in-law Karl and sister Celia.
For more of Mr. Danser’s life, or to leave a note to the family, please visit the funeral home’s Web site at www.DavidCGross.com or send an e-mail to JessicaDanser@yahoo.com. Mr. Danser’s albums remain available at cdbaby.com.
Laurie Frink, 61, a trumpeter and teacher and a Local 802 member since 1976, died on July 13.
Born in Pender, Nebraska, Ms. Frink’s career eventually led her to play with such luminaries as Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer, John Hollenbeck, Dave Liebman, Andrew Hill, Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider. Her diverse career included Broadway shows, jingles, movie soundtracks, and guest appearances with artists such as the Talking Heads, David Bowie and David Sanborn. She performed with the Manhattan Brass Quintet, the Saturday Brass Quintet, the Gramercy Park Brass and Concordia.
Considered the foremost authority and teacher of the Carmine Caruso method, Ms. Frink attracted professional brass players from around the world. Her personable style contributed to her success as a clinician, lecturer and conductor. In addition to her work – ranging from junior high school wind ensembles to professional jazz orchestras – she was a featured artist at the International Trumpet Competition in Kiev and the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Goteborg, Sweden. Ms. Frink was also a member of the board of directors of both the International Trumpet Guild and also the Font Festival.
Ms. Frink taught at NYU, the New School, the New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music. She and John McNeil co-authored “FLEXUS: Trumpet Calisthenics for the Modern Improviser.” She was well known for her insightful ability to solve physical difficulties experienced by many brass players.
She is survived by her partner, the violist Lois Martin, who is also a member of Local 802. Local 802 members who have memories or reminiscences about Ms. Frink can e-mail them to Allegro@Local802afm.org. Obituary compiled from LaurieFrink.com and NECmusic.edu.
Carline Ray, 88, the bassist, vocalist and guitarist, died on July 18. She had been a member of Local 802 since 1945. Ms. Ray served for many years on the Local 802 Trial Board, was active in the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign, and served as the jazz consultant to the Executive Board from 2010 to 2012.
Ms. Ray, who studied at Juilliard and earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, began her professional career as a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and later Erskine Hawkins’ big band. During her career, she also performed with big bands led by Sy Oliver, Skitch Henderson and Mercer Ellington.
As a vocalist, she sang backup in the studio for Patti Page, Bobby Darin and others. She also sang classical choral works, including performances of Christmas music conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Ms. Ray often sang and played bass with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, including in its 1971 production of “Mary Lou’s Mass” by Mary Lou Williams.
She also played in touring and educational groups featuring female musicians, including Jazzberry Jam, with pianist Bertha Hope.
“She was one of my mentors,” remembers jazz bassist and Local 802 Executive Board member Bob Cranshaw. “She was one of the first people to pick up the electric Fender bass, and make it work in jazz. When I saw that, I said, ‘I can do that too.’”
Ms. Ray is survived by her daughter, the singer Catherine Russell, who is also a member of Local 802. She is also survived by her sister Irma Sloan. Her husband, the seminal jazz pianist and bandleader Luis Russell, died in 1963.
Ms. Ray’s musical life was too rich to fit into this small space. Readers who want to know more or who have reminiscences to share about Ms. Ray can e-mail Allegro@Local802afm.org. Thanks to Todd Bryant Weeks for researching and writing this obituary. Some information from the New York Times. For more on Carline Ray, see our reprint of the 1998 Allegro interview with Ms. Ray and also a tribute from Ms. Ray’s daughter Catherine in this issue.
Joe Rutkowski Sr.
Joe Rutkowski Sr., 82, a drummer, accordion player, guitarist and harmonica player, died last Nov. 22, 2012. He had joined Local 802 in 1959.
Mr. Rutkowski began playing professional club dates on drums as a teenager with his younger brother and their father. “In tougher American times, he was a true American,” wrote his son Joseph Jr. When duty called, he served in the Korean War as an Army cook, feeding thousands who served alongside him. He entertained his buddies with his accordion, guitar and harmonica.
Returning to NYC, he joined Local 802 and went back to playing his drums at various venues all over the area. He retired from playing professionally in 1977, but never hesitated to get on the drum set to play with family or friends. In fact, a few days before his death, Mr. Rutkowski was playing his drumsticks on his dinner tray in the hospital, accompanied by his sons and grandsons on their own instruments. These spontaneous performances brought delight and cheer to the other patients in the ICU, as well as to the medical staff.
Mr. Rutkowski lived a full life. His first wife, Ann Saccento (whom he divorced in 1974), passed away in 2000. He is survived by his wife Judy, sons Joseph Jr., Andrew and Russell Starr, daughters Annmarie, Joanne, Victoria and Helena Starr-Groh, sister Martha Fabianowicz and many musical grandchildren.