Volume CIII, No. 2February, 2003
Norman (Buddy) Baker – Conductor/Arranger
George Barrie – Saxophone
Helen Berlin – Violin
Joe Carroll – Drums
John Cyr – Drums
Frank De Marinis – Saxophone
Vincent Forchetti – Trombone
Bobby Forrester – Piano
Max Jaffe – Piano
Raymond Kaiser – Saxophone
Walter (Jay-R) Kelly – Piano
Joseph Krause – Trumpet
James LeBlanc – Drums
Charles McGee – Trumpet/Arranger
Peter Robinson – French Horn
Mel Rodnon – Saxophone/Contractor
Billy Rose – Saxophone
Arvell Shaw – Bass
Frederick Sollner, Jr. – Bass
Louis Stein – Piano
Kris Weston – Guitar
Victor Zolo – Trumpet/Arranger
Helen Berlin, 96, a violinist and an 802 member since 1933, died on Nov. 24.
Ms. Berlin was born in Philadelphia and started studying violin at age five. She went on to study in New York with Paul Kochanski, Paul Stassevich and Rubin Goldmark.
Ms. Berlin won two Sesquicentennial National Contest Prizes, sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, in 1926 and 1927. She also won the Walter Naumburg Award for her debut recital in New York at Town Hall in 1928.
Ms. Berlin earned a four-year scholarship from Juilliard. She performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski in 1934. During the Great Depression she played with the NBC Orchestra at radio station WEAF, for $22.50 a performance.
Later, Ms. Berlin was principal in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Eisler Solomon.
In the 1970’s Ms. Berlin toured Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow with the New York Philharmonic.
She is survived by her nieces Phyllis, Doris, Judith and Betty, nephews Jerry, Arthur, Robert and Robert.
Bobby Forrester, 55, a pianist and organist and an 802 member since 1966, died on Nov. 23.
Mr. Forrester was born in the Bronx and started playing piano at the age of 9. He also learned guitar, and for many years was a professional rock-and-roll guitarist. His true love and musical soul, however, was the Hammond organ, which he picked up in 1966 under the tutelage of Richie Levister. His influences and musical heroes included Jimmy Smith, Jack MacDuff and Jimmy McGriff.
Mr. Forrester had a distinctive style, which was described as soulful, harmonically sophisticated and very swinging. Friends said that he was an extremely versatile musician and could play in many different styles. Jazz remained his passion, however, and he loved the instrumentation of tenor sax and organ.
He was the keyboardist and musical director for singer Ruth Brown for 26 years; Ms. Brown called Mr. Forrester her right-hand man. He also worked with vocalists Irene Reid, Lena Horne, Gwen Cleveland and Ernie Byrd.
He played with saxophonists George Coleman, Bill Easley, Percy France, Harold Ousley, Bill Saxton, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, Harold Vick, Jerry Weldon and Frank Wess, drummers Tootsie Bean and Art Taylor, and bassists Ben Brown and Noryko.
He also played with the pop singer Bonnie Raitt.
Mr. Forrester was recorded on many albums. A final album, Live at Small’s, is due to be released with William Ash and Tootsie Bean.
He is survived by his mother Mary, brother Harold, sister Marianne and ex-wife Joyce.
Mel Rodnon, 74, orchestra contractor, clarinetist, saxophonist and flutist, and an 802 member since 1944, died on Jan. 1.
Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Rodnon began his professional playing career as a member of the Buddy Rich band as well as the tour’s road manager. During these early years he also played with the bands of Benny Goodman, Tito Puente and Frank Sinatra. He was a member of the Pupi Campo band and played in the staff band on The Jack Paar Show.
Mr. Rodnon first worked on Broadway in 1957, in the orchestra of The Threepenny Opera. Since then, he played in the orchestras of over 40 musicals. In the early 60’s, he was the house contractor at the Palace Theatre. Soon after, he contracted his first Broadway shows: The Rothschilds (1970) and Jesus Christ Superstar (1971).
Mr. Rodnon contracted over 35 musicals in his career, including Chess, Chicago, Les Misérables, Me & My Girl, Miss Saigon, My One & Only, Pippin and Porgy & Bess. He had an extensive relationship with Andrew Lloyd Webber and was music coordinator and contractor for all of the Broadway and touring productions of Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love, Song & Dance, Joseph, Sunset Boulevard, The Phantom of the Opera and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He had the unequaled distinction of engaging orchestras for eight musicals running simultaneously on Broadway, during the 1988-89 season.
His contracting experience, however, extended beyond Broadway. In 1965 Mr. Rodnon became house contractor, as well as a member of the house band, at the Westbury Music Fair. For fifteen years, he contracted and played for almost every act to come to Westbury, including Shirley Bassey, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Lena Horne, Englebert Humperdink, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick and many others.
He also contracted the orchestras for all of the Royal Shakespeare Company productions in the 1980’s. He contracted – and played in – the orchestra for the 40th anniversary of the Benny Goodman Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1978. When the entertainment complex “Sun City” was opened in South Africa, he contracted and played for Shirley Bassey’s orchestra, one of the first big acts to tour there. In the 80’s and 90’s he contracted extensively for Ron Delsener Enterprises, for such diverse acts as Rod Stewart, Barry White and Depeche Mode.
In addition to numerous recordings, films and TV commercials, Mr. Rodnon performed with the New York City Ballet, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Westchester Symphony.
He is survived by his wife Darya, son Jonathan and daughter Melissa.
Arvell Shaw, 79, a bassist and an 802 member since 1953, died on Dec. 6.
Mr. Shaw learned trombone and tuba in high school in East St. Louis. He took up the double bass in 1942 at the suggestion of Clark Terry. His first gig was on a riverboat with bandleader Fate Marable.
He joined the Navy and played in several military bands. After being discharged, Louis Armstrong invited him to play in his band, with whom he played off and on until Armstrong’s death in 1971. Mr. Shaw became such an accomplished bassist that Armstrong allowed him to take longer solos than many of the other band members.
Armstrong soon called him back and he joined a new group called Armstrong’s All Stars. He played with Armstrong off and on for most of the next 20 years, also working for Jazz at the Philharmonic and with the Teddy Wilson trio.
He also found time to travel. In 1951 he studied harmony and composition in Geneva and in 1958 he toured Europe with Benny Goodman’s band and recorded with Sidney Bechet that same year.
Mr. Shaw was with Armstrong on the trumpeter’s last gig at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, and when Armstrong died Shaw stayed in the city, working in pit bands on Broadway. He played in the musicals Bubbling Brown Sugar and Ain’t Misbehavin’ among others.
He toured Britain with an Armstrong tribute band led by trumpeter Keith Smith in the early 1980’s. He also played and recorded with Lionel Hampton in 1982. He created a Louis Armstrong tribute band called the Louis Armstrong Legacy.
Even as his eyesight deteriorated, Mr. Shaw continued performing at festivals all over the world, including the Ascona Festival in Switzerland where he appeared last July.
Mr. Shaw appeared in a number of films or TV specials including Louis Armstrong-Jack Teagarden Sextet (1948), Eddie Condon Floor Show (1949), Louis Armstrong and his All Stars in France (1950), Botta e Risposta (1951), The Glenn Miller Story (1953), High Society (1955), Satchmo The Great (1956) and Swing Into Spring (1958).
He is survived by his daughter Victoria, brother Rudy and sister Marvella.
Louis Stein, 80, a pianist and an 802 member since 1947, died on Dec. 11.
A Philadelphia native, Mr. Stein was a touring jazz musician when he was 18, appearing with Ray McKinley and Glenn Miller.
In 1950, Downbeat voted him the country’s number two pianist. Throughout the 1950’s, he was a member of the Charlie Ventura group.
He recorded with Percy Faith, Jackie Gleason, Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Clark Terry, Kai Winding, Coleman Hawkins and others. He is the pianist on Charlie Parker’s historic cuts of “Stella by Starlight” and “Lover.”
Mr. Stein was also a composer. His “East of Suez” was a Grammy nominee. “Soft Sands,” recorded on Verve by Oscar Peterson, was an international hit. He is also the author of books on jazz published by Sheet Music magazine and Alfred Music.
Mr. Stein taught at Manhattanville College and the SUNY system.
He is survived by his wife Irene, daughters Elise and Jacqueline and son Eric.