Volume C, No. 12December, 2000
Willard Brady – Saxophone
Don Brooks – Harmonica
Charles Buchman – Saxophone/Clarinet
Ruth Eder – Saxophone
Conrad Frederick – Piano
Nathan Kroll – Violin/Conductor
Tony Lane – Guitar
Al Miller – Drums
Tony Parrillo – Baritone Horn
Dr. Merrill Staton – Singer/Conductor
Howard Vogel – Bassoon
Britt Woodman – Trombone
Don Brooks, 53, a harmonica player who recorded widely as a studio musician in New York City, died of leukemia on Oct. 25. He had been an 802 member since 1970.
Mr. Brooks, who grew up in Texas, took up the harmonica after hearing an album by Sonny Terry. He played in Dallas coffeehouses in the 1960s alongside songwriters like Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins and Jerry Jeff Walker. He moved to New York City in 1967, becoming part of a Greenwich Village folk scene that included David Bromberg and John Hammond Jr. Mr. Brooks recorded and performed with Judy Collins and Harry Belafonte, and in 1973 joined country singer Waylon Jennings’ band.
He became a leading studio player in New York, and over the years recorded with musicians including Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon, the Talking Heads, Ringo Starr, Tim Hardin, the Bee Gees, Diana Ross and Bette Midler. He played in the Broadway productions of Big River in 1985 and The Gospel at Colonus in 1988, and in the Ken Burns public television documentary, The Civil War.
He is survived by his wife Anne, son Leonard and two grandchildren.
Charles Buchman, 84, a saxophone and clarinet player, and a Local 802 member since 1937, died on Aug. 13. Mr. Buchman had a very busy career in the club date field, performing in the New York City area and, for many years, at Catskills Mountains resorts.
He is survived by his wife Shirley, son Gary and grandson Brian.
Dr. Merrill Staton
Dr. Merrill Ostrus Staton, 81, whose 50-year career in music encompassed work as a singer, conductor, producer and educator, died on Oct. 13. He had been an 802 member since 1957.
Born in Wiota, Iowa, he majored in music at Northwest Missouri State University, and in 1942 joined the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy he directed a 75-voice male choir, an experience that led him to New York and the beginning of his musical career. He earned a masters degree in music and a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College in 1949.
Dr. Staton sang and recorded with such artists as Robert Shaw, Robert Goulet, Richard Burton, Maurice Chevalier, Julie Andrews, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin and Nat “King” Cole. He led a professional choral group, the Merrill Staton Voices. He was music director and featured his singers on many early television shows, such as Ernie Kovaks, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Omnibus, and specials on Lerner and Lowe and Cole Porter.
He made educational recordings and books that are used in thousands of schools across the country. He and his wife, Barbara, were the senior authors of the K-8 music education series Music and You published by Macmillan Publishing Company. He also served as executive producer for audio visual materials for Silver Burdette Company for many years.
Dr. Staton is survived by his wife Barbara, sons Jeff and Joe, daughter Cathy Rustin, four grandchildren, and his brother, Aubrey Ostrus.
Howard Levi Vogel, 67, a bassoon and recorder player and an early music expert, died on Oct. 18. He had joined Local 802 in 1955.
Born in the Bronx, he studied the bassoon at Manhattan School of Music. Soon after receiving his masters degree he joined the Kansas City Philharmonic, where he stayed for several years before moving back to New York and taking a position on the faculty of Bronx Community College.
His interest in early and baroque music, using instruments of the periods, evolved in the late 1950s, in part through his membership in the New York Pro-Musica under the direction of Noah Greenberg. He was director of the New York Baroque Ensemble and founded the Village Music Workshop, where he taught recorder ensemble classes for several decades. Mr. Vogel toured with the Robert Shaw Chorale and played both the bassoon and lute solos in its performance of Bach’s St. John’s Passion.
After retiring and making Woodstock, N.Y., his full-time home in the late 1980s, he began writing music reviews for the Woodstock Times.
He is survived by his mother Bettie, brother Sandor, nephews Darrell and Duane and niece Shoshana. A memorial service is to be held next spring.
Britt Woodman, 80, a trombonist who was one of the pillars of the Duke Ellington big band in the 1950s, died on Oct. 13 in Hawthorne, Calif., after a battle with respiratory illness. He had been an 802 member since 1955.
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Woodman grew up in a musical family. He started playing piano at age 7 and soon moved on to the trombone, saxophone and clarinet. By the age of 15, he was playing professionally in a group with two older brothers: the Woodman Brothers Biggest Little Band in the World. After the band split up about five years later, he played in a variety of clubs, and was an important figure in the growth of the vibrant Los Angeles jazz scene.
He served in the Army during World War II. In 1946 he joined the innovative orchestra of Boyd Raeburn and gigs with Eddie Heywood and Lionel Hampton followed. From 1948-50, he studied music on the GI Bill at Westlake College in Los Angeles.
In 1951 Mr. Woodman became first trombonist in the Ellington orchestra. With Ellington, he was featured on numbers such as “Sonnet to Hank V” (from “Such Sweet Thunder”) and “Red Garter” (from “Toot Suite”). He joined up with Charles Mingus in 1961, and later played in the ensembles of such leaders as Benny Goodman, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Nelson, Nelson Riddle and the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin big band. In a career that spanned many decades, he was featured on albums by Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney, and many others. He also played in the orchestras of several Broadway shows.
Mr. Woodman, who alternated between living in New York and Los Angeles, remained highly active through the 1990s, appearing with such bands as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, and David Berger’s Sultans of Swing. He had recently returned to Los Angeles.
Mr. Woodman’s wife, Clara, died in 1991. He is survived by his brothers Coney, William and George.