Volume C, No. 10October, 2000
Shirley Albert – Piano
Russell “Russ” Andrews – Tenor Sax/Arranger
Michael Bruno – Drums
Charles Buchman – Saxophone
Samuel A. Coreys – Bassoon
Prudy Curtis – Organ/Choral Director
William F. Griffin – Drums
Herbert Hecht – Conductor
J.A. Kozelle – Trumpet
Dominick Lentine – Guitar
Pat Merola – Bass/Piano/Conductor
Jack Miller – Drums
William L. Simon – Saxophone
Michael Skorr – Accordion
Louis Weber – Drums
Dr. Prudence B. Curtis, an organist and choral director and the founder of Curtis Music, died at her home in Elizabeth, N.J., on Aug. 20, after a battle with cancer. She had been a member of Local 802 since 1978.
Ms. Curtis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Montclair University in Montclair, N.J., received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, and became a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists. For many years she taught theory and composition at the Manhattan School of Music, and she was also an adjunct professor of music at Montclair University and at Kean University in Union, N.J.
An accomplished organist and choral director, she served her home church, Epworth United Methodist in Elizabeth, during her college years. She later served for 15 years as Minister of Music at First Baptist Church in Roselle, and then at First Church of Orange in Orange, N.J., for the past 15 years. An active member of the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists, she also served for many years as secretary of the national organization.
Perhaps her greatest impact on the lives of 802 members was as the founder of Curtis Music, a flourishing music business which has served the tri-state area for the last 20 years. Her unique qualities as a person and as a musician made the company extremely successful.
Her family has requested that memorials be sent to First Presbyterian Church of Orange, c/o Music Fund, Main Street and Scotland Road, Orange, NJ 07050.
Pasquale (Pat) Anthony Merola, 80, a bass player, pianist, arranger, composer and conductor, and a 60-year member of Local 802, died on June 18 in Miami Beach. Mr. Merola was also a member of Local 655 in South Florida.
Born in 1920, he was raised in Brooklyn. His formal music education and study of the violin began during a two-year stay with his grandparents in Capua, Italy. At age 17 he began playing the bass. After his military service he played, arranged and toured with the Stan Kenton All Stars and the Tony Pastor Band. In the mid 1950s he settled back in Brooklyn with his family and spent many years at the Copacabana, where he played for many top acts. This was followed by many more years as a staff bass player at ABC Television in Manhattan. He also played on record dates, commercials, jingles, demos, and on film.
Mr. Merola toured and conducted for Eddy Arnold before relocating to Miami Beach in the mid-1970s. He remained an active musician until March of this year, when he suffered a massive stroke. He composed through most of his 63-year career and in February, to mark his 80th birthday, his son John produced a CD of some of his music.
He is survived by his second wife, Evelyn, children Karen and John, stepson Charles and seven grandchildren.
William L. Simon
Bill Simon, 80, a jazz saxophone player and member of Local 802 and its Senior Musicians Association, died on Aug. 20. He had joined Local 802 in 1944.
Mr. Simon was a songwriter with Jack Yellen and Gene Lees, among others; he supervised jazz recordings for such independent labels as National and Gotham; was a writer/critic for Saturday Review and editor/reporter for Billboard; manager of the RCA Victor Popular Record Club; senior music editor for Reader’s Digest books and music, where he compiled such best-selling albums as The Great Band Era, The Swing Years, Take Me Home Country Roads and Great Music’s Greatest Hits. He also edited 17 Reader’s Digest songbooks.
The Bill and George Simon Swing Group began the tradition of Twilight Jazz in New York and played at Eddie Condon’s for 4½ years, until the building was razed, then at Red Blazer Too and Jimmy Walker’s before he retired to Sarasota, Fla.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Toni and Beryl, sisters Dorothy Engel and Helen Yasgur, and two grandsons.