Robert Abernathy – French Horn
Jimmy Cheatham – Bass Trombone
Burt Collins – Trumpet
Joe Farrell – Saxophone
Eileen M. Folson – Cello
Maurice Gardner – Conductor
Jerry Gilgor – Drums
Murray Grand – Piano
Patrick L. Harrison – Drums
Francis Heilbut – Piano
Murray Heyman – Saxophone
Nicholas J. Hook – Saxophone
Bob January – Clarinet
Siegfried Landau – Piano
Ted Martin – Saxophone
Bruce Mc Kinnon – Piano
Joseph Palmer – Saxophone
Sydney Perlman – Saxophone
Robert Pownall – Tuba
Lawrence L. Press – Drums
Buddy Schutz – Drums
Estella E. Williams – Piano
Burt Collins, 75, a trumpeter and an 802 member since 1955, died on Feb. 24.
Mr. Collins played with Neal Hefti in 1955 and with Woody Herman in 1956.
He was in Dizzy Gillespie’s band from 1956 to 1957 and also played with Quincy Jones, Duke Pearson, Donald Byrd, Cannonball Adderley and James Moody.
He later became successful in recording work and also played several Broadway shows.
Mr. Collins is survived by his sister Barbara Neiburg, stepchildren Lisa Morello and Mitch Braverman and grandchildren Zachary and Kyle. He’s also survived by his niece, nephew and their families and his first wife, Ann Ruckert, who is also an 802 member. Mr. Collins’ wife Barbara died earlier this year.
Read trumpeter Leo Ball’s personal reminiscences of Burt Collins in this issue.
Eileen M. Folson
Eileen M. Folson, 50, a cellist, composer, arranger and an 802 member since 1981, died on Feb. 4.
Born in Philadelphia, Ms. Folson was a naturally gifted musician, playing cello, piano and trumpet in high school. At the age of 17 she appeared as cello soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
She spent her first year at Indiana University studying with Janos Starker, then transferred to the University of Michigan on full scholarship to study with Samuel Mayes. After graduation she was invited to be an orchestra fellow with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. She was the third African-American string player to be selected.
She toured worldwide for over 15 years with the Uptown String Quartet, concertizing in venues from black churches to European castles. She wrote numerous arrangements for Max Roach and the Double Quartet,the Black Swan String Quartet and USQ.
An internationally renowned improviser on the cello, her contribution to the legacy left by Oscar Pettiford is prodigious. Ms. Folson’s versatility ranged from teaching residencies and performances with freelance orchestra and opera companies to studio recordings and television appearances.
Broadway shows for which she recorded and played include “Beauty and the Beast,” “Carousel,” “Gypsy,” “Into the Woods,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Sweet Charity,” “Ragtime” and “The Lion King.”
All who knew Ms. Folson were touched by her gentle soul, special smile and amazing talent.
She is survived by husband Jack, children Khalil and Charlene, grandson Isaiah, mother Lillian and siblings Jacqueline, Earl, Mark and Angela.
Jerry Gilgor, 82, a drummer and an 802 member since 1956, died on Jan. 6.
After serving in the Army in World War II, he returned to Philadelphia and became an intergral part of the bebop scene, working in bands led by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Red Rodney and many other of the jazz greats of that period.
In 1956 he transferred from Local 77 (Philadelphia) to Local 802 and worked as a busy freelance player.
In 1959 he joined Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé as their personal drummer until 1964, when he was hired as a staff musician at NBC. He played drums on “The Tonight Show” for three and a half years under the direction of Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinsen.
After the loss of his 35-year-old wife to cancer, Mr. Gilgor moved his family to Las Vegas, where he lived and worked for 30 years.
Recognized for his exceptional technique, Mr. Gilgor was also a much sought-after teacher.
He is survived by his children Sandy, Bernie, Seth and Lon, and grandchildren Johanna, Jason, Lindsey, Dalton, Jessica and Nicole.
Murray Grand, 87, a pianist, composer and lyricist, died on March 7. He had been an 802 member since 1946.
Mr. Grand started his career playing at private clubs at the young age of 15 during the Depression. He continued to play through high school and hit the local piano bar scene after the repeal of Prohibition. He brought his love of piano playing with him as he served in the Army infantry during World War II. It was here where he first got his opportunity to play with various stars such as Betty Grable, Gypsy Rose Lee, Beatrice Lillie, Alberta Hunter and a host of others who came to tour with the USO.
After returning from the war, Mr. Grand studied composition and piano at Juilliard. Over the next four decades, he established himself as a pianist and entertainer in New York’s top nightspots, including the Fireside Inn, Upstairs At the Downstairs, Bon Soir, Jack Delaney’s and the Village Green.
Mr. Grand never fully retired but instead took his passion for people and playing to Ft. Lauderdale where he enjoyed being surrounded by friends at Burt and Jack’s restaurant.
His final endeavor included finishing a book of recollections appropriately titled after his most legendary song, “Guess Who I Saw Today.” The song has been recorded by Eydie Gorme, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan, and it was included in a collection of the 25 most important night club songs of all time in a recorded anthology sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute and their archives.
Murray Heyman, 95, a saxophonist, bandleader and contractor, died on Feb. 25. He had been an 802 member since 1931.
Mr. Heyman is survived by his daughter Joan, son-in-law Carl, grandchildren Adam, Philip, Anna, Kaare and Jennifer, and their spouses Monica, Linda, Martin, Pamela and Alfredo, and nine great-grandchildren.
Nicholas J. Hook
Nicholas J. Hook, 89, a saxophonist, clarinetist and vocalist, and an 802 member since 1948, died on Feb. 7.
Born in Passaic, New Jersey, of Ukrainian immigrant parents, Mr. Hook moved to East Orange in his childhood.
During World War II, he performed in North Africa and Italy with the Ambassadors of Swing, the Army’s 85th Infantry Division band. He was honorably discharged in 1945.
He performed with the Lester Lanin and Meyer Davis bands, served as the band director of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in Manhattan, and played on trans-Atlantic runs of the S. S. Independence. He also performed at various venues in New Jersey and in Florida, including the Tremont Hotel in Sea Girt, and last at the Goldman Hotel in West Orange.
He began working for the Department of Property Taxation of East Orange in 1977, earning his CTA and SPA, and retiring as the city’s deputy tax assessor in 1992.
He was a lifelong resident member of the East Orange Golf Course.
The family suggests that memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Robert C. Pownall, 69, a tubist and an 802 member since the early 1950’s, died last June 12, 2006.
Mr. Pownall played with the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, and for Broadway musicals such as “Flower Drum Song,” and was a freelance musician for artists like Harry Belafonte and Sammy Kaye. He also played at Radio City Music Hall.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in tuba performance and a master’s degree in music education in 1965 from the Manhattan School of Music. He taught music in Hicksville public schools in Long Island New York for 33 years.
Mr. Pownall was an officer for the Hicksville Congress of Teachers from 1980 to 1994. He also served as associate professor of music at Hofstra University and an adjunct tuba instructor at Nassau Community College from 1970 to 1995.
In his retirement years in Virginia, he was president of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Audubon Society and was a volunteer with the Shenandoah Agency on Aging and Tax Aid. He also played in the American Legion Community Band in Front Royal. He was a member of Hopewell Friends Meeting.
He is survived by his wife Phyllis, sisters Rosann Davies and Carol Ferri, brother Henry Pownall, daughter Debbie Nunez, son Harry Pownall, and four grandchildren.
The family told Allegro that memorial contributions may be made to the Bob Pownall Memorial Fund, c/o Philip Yount, Shenandoah Audubon, Lewin-Yount Door Co., 3167 Valley Pike, Winchester 22602, or to the Bob Pownall Memorial, Hopewell Friends Meeting, Hopewell Road, Clearbrook, VA 22624.
Adolph “Buddy” Schutz
Adolph “Buddy” Schutz, 92, a drummer and an 802 member since 1934, died on Feb. 24.
Mr. Schutz had a professional career as a drummer for over 70 years, playing and recording with leaders such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey and Vincent Lopez.
He was featured in several movies playing with the Jimmy Dorsey band, among them “Four Jills and a Jeep,” “The Fleet’s In” and “Lost in a Harem,” with Abbott and Costello.
Mr. Schutz also served as a professional photographer while playing with the big bands and photographed many well-known movie stars of the time.
After leaving the traveling bands in the late 40’s, Mr. Schutz played with the Vincent Lopez band at the Hotel Taft in New York City, as well as working the New York City club circuit.
He was also a drum teacher, played for Barclay Dance Classes in Westfield, New Jersey and played for 18 years at the Warren Hotel in Spring Lake until it closed.
Mr. Schutz was featured this past year in the magazine “Not So Modern Drummer” and gave several interviews.
He is survived by his wife Marion, sons Robert and Raymond, grandchildren Kari Burkholder, Kristi Young, Ryan Schutz, and Jeffrey and Wendy Schutz, and great-grandchildren Kailyn, and Mattison Burkholder, Ryan Keener and Kalle Young.
Estella Etta Williams
Estella Etta Williams, 89, a vocalist and pianist and an 802 member since 1955, died on Feb. 23.
Born in Kentucky and nurtured in New York City, Ms. Williams came from a musical family with deep roots. She was first cousin to legendary bassist Charles Mingus.
Ms. Williams was the lead vocalist in the Nadi Qamar Trio along with many other groups over the years. She was talented enough to open for Billie Holiday.
Ms. Williams was also a community activist. She was the president of the Queens chapter of the NAACP Youth Council in her younger years. In addition, she spent many years supporting York College in Jamaica, Queens, where she was director of the York College Choir.
Ms. Williams was a member of Allen AME Church in St. Albans, Queens, where she sang in the choir. She also joined St. Peter’s Church and performed in the church’s famous jazz service.
Later in life, when she was in her 60’s, Ms. Williams earned degrees in music and education from Kingsborough Community College and Lehman College.
Ms. Williams was also a trained actor who appeared in movies, theatre and television, including “The Prescription of Time” and “Law and Order.”
She is survived by her sister-in-law Theresa Williams, cousins Gene Bass and Charlie Mingus III, nieces Pamela Crumpton, Vee Dette Kessler, Louise Santiago and Idina Williams, nephews Irving Durrah and Rudy Williams, Jr., dozens of great and great-great nieces and nephews, and many in-laws of her family members.