Marty Laster, 65, who first joined Local 802 in 1973, died on April 9. Mr. Laster’s career as a violinist, violist, mandolinist and guitarist spanned nearly 50 years. In addition to being a performer, he also composed, arranged, taught, and authored instructional music books for Mel Bay Publications. A lover of diverse musical genres, he played classical viola as well as swing, bluegrass, country, klezmer and Irish fiddle among other styles. Mr. Laster grew up in the Bronx. His father was a violinist who, at age 11, performed with Yossele Rosenblatt, the renowned cantor. In the course of his career, Mr. Laster played with the band Wicker’s Creek along with young bandmate Bela Fleck. In later years, Mr. Laster was the violist on Andy Statman’s album “Flatbush Waltz.” Along his musical journey, he played club dates, recording studio jobs and film work, and played in numerous bands that further reflected his varied tastes, including gospel and cajun/zydeco ensembles. On Broadway, he performed in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Big River.” For several years, he played viola with the Long Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Laster’s signature recording, “Sound Mosaics,” included seven of his original tunes and highlighted his eclectic musical styles along with his masterful playing and arranging. He is survived by his wife Jackie, son Michael, brother Alan, sister-in-law Lisa, nieces Deanna and Danielle, great-nieces Grace and Alexandra and great-nephew John. The family is planning a memorial concert in the fall; contact Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kate Light, 56, a member of Local 802 since 1983 and a longtime member of the New York City Opera orchestra, died on April 13. She was a concert violinist, librettist, lyricist, poet, and teacher. Ms. Light graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in violin performance from Eastman. While a full-time performer, she earned an MFA in poetry from Hunter College and completed a program at the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. In addition, she was a resident artist with the American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program from 2011-2012. Ms. Light was known for her books “The Laws of Falling Bodies,” “Open Slowly” and “Gravity’s Dream.” She won the Donald Justice Award and Nicholas Roerich Prize as well as an award from the Academy of American Poets. Ms. Light wrote the librettos for “The Life and Love of Joe Coogan,” “Once Upon the Wind,” “Metamorphoses,” “The World Beneath the Waves” (formerly “Oceanophony”) and “Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses.” Her lyrics for the original song “Here Beside Me” are heard in Disney’s “Mulan II.” Ms. Light narrated her pieces herself with sparkle and delight. Until her death in New York City, at age 56, she taught poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction at Hunter College. Ms. Light is survived by her mother, Dorothy, sisters Judith and Betsy, brother Steve, brother-in-law Charles and sister-in-law Kathryn. The family suggests donations in Ms. Light’s memory to the West Chester University Poetry Conference (www.wcufoundation.org/give), the Actors Fund (www.actorsfund.org/donate), Interlochen (www.interlochen.org/give) or Eastman (www.rochester.edu, click on “Giving”). Ms. Light’s family, friends, and colleagues plan to celebrate her life and work at future dates to be announced soon on her Facebook page and elsewhere (see www.facebook.com/kate.light.3).
Joseph Muro, 98, a guitarist and bassist, died on April 9. He had been a member of Local 802 since 1936. As a high school student, he and his brother Paul formed the Muro Brothers Orchestra. In 1935, they performed at the Roxy Theatre in New York after winning first place on the Fred Allen Show. They were the first band to play at the Jones Beach bandshell and played there nightly for several summers. They continued to play together in the New York area until the 1960s.
Mr. Muro performed with Lee Castle and toured with Alvino Rey and the King Sisters. He was asked to join Woody Herman’s band by Woody himself. During World War II, he served in the 379th Army Service Forces Band stationed at Newport News, Virginia, where he performed with Shorty Rogers, Arnold Fishkind, Lenny Hambro, Ivan Mogull and others.
Even though he stopped playing professionally many years ago in order to pursue a teaching career in English literature, he still enjoyed reading Allegro until only a few months ago, according to Mr. Muro’s son Don. Mr. Muro is also survived by his other son Rex, daughter Diane, son-in-law Daniel, daughters-in-law Nancy and Deanna, and two grandchildren – Derek Muro, a Brooklyn-based composer and performer, and Deidre Muro, a songwriter for Shapiro Bernstein, who, with her husband David Perlick-Molinari, owns YouTooCanWoo, a music production facility in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Joseph James Shepley, 85, a trumpeter and a member of Local 802 since 1955, died on March 26. Mr. Shepley was one of the most in-demand studio and live performers from the 1960s to the 2000s. By the age of 12, he was already playing professionally. He served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 in the Korean War. Shortly after his return, he earned his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Shepley played with many significant jazz and pop acts in the 60s and 70s, most notably Duke Pearson, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Paul Anka, Astrud Gilberto, Kenny Burrell and Frank Sinatra. Mr. Shepley is survived by his wife Helen, sister Eleanor, brother-in-law Richard, son Joe, daughters Maryellen, Susan and Pamela, sons-in-law William and Keith, daughter-in-law Emily, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family suggests donations to the Emergency Relief Fund (see www.local802erf.org, or call Bettina Covo at 212-245-4802, ext. 152). Obituary information from the web site of Whalen & Ball Funeral Home.
Joseph “Joe” Temperley, 86, a member of Local 802 since 1966, died on May 11. He was best known for his playing on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet. Born in Scotland, Mr. Temperley first achieved prominence in the U.K. as a member of Humphrey Lyttelton’s band, where he played from 1958 to 1965. Soon after, he moved to New York City, where he performed and recorded with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Joe Henderson, Duke Pearson, the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Clark Terry, among many others. In 1974, he began touring and recording with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1988, Mr. Temperley became a founding member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, where he played for more than 25 years. His work in New York also included playing in the orchestra of “Sophisticated Ladies,” which ran from 1981 to 1983 on Broadway. Mr. Temperley’s film soundtrack credits include “Cotton Club,” “Biloxi Blues,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “When Harry Met Sally” and the 1990 film “Tune In Tomorrow,” whose soundtrack was composed by Wynton Marsalis. He released several albums as a leader, including “Sunbeam and Thundercloud” with pianist Dave McKenna and “Double Duke” with several fellow Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members.
Mr. Temperley taught at Juilliard and was a guest mentor of the youth jazz orchestra in Fife, Scotland. He is survived by his wife Laurie and son Matthew. The family suggestions donations to www.LifeRaftGroup.org. Obituary from Wikipedia and www.jazz.org/JLCO/joe-temperley.
WE ALSO REMEMBER
Michael Aaronson, percussion
Barbara Baird, viola
Geraldene Derrick, saxophone
Robert B. Meyer, saxophone
Theodore I. Mordoff, flute
Ronald Ondrejka, viola
Sidney Polivnick, violin
Kay Ragsdale, flute
To report the death of a member, please call Avelon Ramnath 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 contact the AFM Pension Fund at (800) 833-8065, ext. 1311 (or www.afm-epf.org) 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. Photos and personal essays are also welcome.
to continue receiving Allegro in the mail after a spouse is deceased, e-mail Allegro@Local802afm.org or call (646) 765-9663.
if you have any reminiscences, memories or stories about deceased musicians on these pages, please e-mail them to Allegro@Local802afm.org