Clarification: John Serry was listed as deceased in last month’s Allegro. Mr. Serry’s son has the same name, and Allegro wishes to clarify that John Serry Jr. is alive and well. John Serry Jr. is a jazz musician, Broadway player, pianist, keyboardist, arranger and percussionist.
The father, John Serry Sr., died on Sept. 14. He was 88 and was a member of 802 since 1933. He played organ, accordion and piano and he was also an arranger.
Stephen Bates – Conductor
Jimmy Brokenshire – Saxophone/Conductor/Arranger
James A. Di Biase – Organ
Kent H. Eanes – Flute
Belisario Errante – Piano/Arranger
Sidney Gottlieb – Violin
John (Jack) J. Keller – Bass
Meyer Kupferman – Clarinet/Conductor
Joseph C. Livramento – Saxophone
Mario Marcone – Trumpet
Marie Marcus – Piano
Pete Marmaras – Drums
Leo Mueller – Piano/Conductor
Gerald P. Oddo – Guitar
Lloyd C. Rudy – Accordion
Fletcher Smith – Piano
Henry Taylor – Bass
Charles E. Testino – Drums
William Carl (Bama) Warwick – Trumpet
Ron Wolfe – Piano
John (Jack) J. Keller
Jack Keller, 87, a vocalist, double bassist, bass guitarist, violinist, pianist, and a Local 802 member since 1953, died on Nov. 14.
Mr. Keller came to New York City to pursue a career as a songwriter. He attended Hartnett School of Music and became a highly successful club date musician.
Mr. Keller was a vocalist for the Joe Ravel Orchestra, did recording work, and sang live on radio shows. During World War II, he entered the Special Services, entertaining soldiers with vocals, big band music and musical parodies. He played at officers’ clubs, USO clubs, and various service clubs, sometimes performing with Zero Mostel.
Mr. Keller was a leader for New York City’s top society orchestras. His work included society affairs, political functions, debuts and industrial shows. His repertoire consisted of standards, show tunes, jazz, pop and rock. He sang in Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Greek, German, Hungarian and Polish. Mr. Keller also was among the first to incorporate the use of wireless microphones in the club date business.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Keller performed for many notables, including all the U.S. presidents from Eisenhower through George H.W. Bush, many of New York City’s mayors, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, Joe Papp, Harry Helmsley, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Victor Borge, Red Skelton and Eddie Fisher.
He is survived by his wife Elyse, and daughters Taryn, Valerie and Laura.
Meyer Kupferman, 77, a composer, clarinetist and music educator, and an 802 member since 1943, died on Nov. 26.
Mr. Kupferman was a prolific composer. His career included an appearance at the White House during the Johnson Administration for a performance of his “Jazz String Quartet,” a first performance of his “Violin Fantasy” by Itzhak Perlman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, collaborations with Martha Graham and Pearl Lang, and many film scores such as “Black Like Me,” “Hallelujah the Hills,” and Truman Capote’s “Trilogy,” which included the popular work, “A Christmas Memory.”
Mr. Kupferman worked as a young jazz musician in clubs and bars around Coney Island. His compositions were influenced by his Eastern European heritage and by his early and continuous involvement with jazz. He studied theory, chamber ensemble and orchestral music at New York’s High School of Music and Art. He also studied at Queens College.
In the late 1950’s, Mr. Kupferman embraced 12-tone compositional techniques. His music made great use of ostinatos, and also incorporated elements of improvisation, where the performer got to decide when to add layers of ostinato.
More than 100 of Mr. Kupferman’s works were recorded on Soundspells, Albany and several other labels.
Mr. Kupferman taught at Sarah Lawrence College for 41 years. At Sarah Lawrence he taught composition and also directed an ensemble devoted to free improvisation.
His music was commissioned, performed and recorded internationally by many orchestras including the Moscow Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, and the American Composers Orchestra. Clarinetist Charles Neidich performed Mr. Kupferman’s solo clarinet work, “Moonflowers, Baby,” at Alice Tully Hall, throughout the U.S., and in concerts throughout the Soviet Union, Europe, and Japan.
In the spring, guitarist Roberto Limon will perform Mr. Kupferman’s “Elegy” for guitar and orchestra at the Havana Festival.
Mr. Kupferman received many awards throughout his career including one from the Guggenheim. He was also recognized by the New York Public Library with the creation of a special archive at the Lincoln Center branch, which will house his manuscripts, correspondence and many other personal and musical documents from across his distinguished career.
He is survived by his wife Pei Fen, daughter Lisa Pitt, stepchildren Fung Chin, Sung Chin and Yung Chin, and five grandchildren.
Ron Wolfe, 60, a pianist and an 802 member since 1971, died on July 2.
Mr. Wolfe was a versatile musician who made his living by playing dance halls, supper clubs, festivals and club dates. He appeared on the “David Frost Show.” He also performed at folk festivals worldwide and at the United Nations. Additionally, he had experience producing, and also wrote for musicals and films.
He wrote and recorded “It Ain’t Right” for Chick Willis. In 2001, he released a CD of his songs, called “Song Selections.”