Volume CVIII, No. 10October, 2008

Joe BeckGuitar

Hiram Law BullockGuitar

Joseph CocuzzoDrums

Benjamin A. EndickAccordion

Louise M. MessinaPiano

Walter StuartTrumpet/Arranger

Harold WaxAccordion

Joseph Cocuzzo

Joseph Cocuzzo, 70, a drummer and songwriter and a longtime 802 member, died on July 31.

Mr. Cocuzzo studied with the great master teacher George Stone. His early tours were with Ralph Marterie, Woody Herman and Les and Larry Elgart. He settled in New York in the 60’s, playing and recording with Erroll Garner, Marian McPartland, Gary McFarland and Don Ellis. It was with Don Ellis that he recorded the 1964 Young People’s Concert at Carnegie Hall with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, featuring the music of Gunther Schuller.

In the 70’s, he became Tony Bennett’s personal drummer, playing and recording with him for the next 10 years.

Later he became the drummer for Diahann Carroll, Vic Damone, Julius La Rosa, Debby Boone, Joel Grey, Michael Feinstein and Rosemary Clooney. He recorded with Frank Sinatra, Sylvia Syms, Susannah McCorkle, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Barbara Carroll and Keely Smith. It was through touring with singers that musicians all over the country got to play with and know Mr. Cocuzzo.

In his last decade, he played with Lenny Argese and Eddie Monteiro in New York and New Jersey. He also wrote music and lyrics, which were published by Warner Brothers. His lyrical tribute to Frank Sinatra, titled “The Singer,” with music by Vinnie Falcone, was recorded by Rosemary Clooney on her last two albums.

He is survived by his wife Holly, son Nick and stepson Morgan Patrick. The family suggests that contributions be made to MusicCares at

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Walter Stuart

Walter Stuart, 82, a trumpeter and arranger and an 802 member since 1959, died on Aug. 30.

Born in Philadelphia in 1925, Walt (affectionately known as “Lash”), played with several bands in the 1940’s and 50’s including Mal Hallett, Hal McIntyre and Perez Prado with whom he played lead trumpet and built a reputation as a high-note specialist.

This reputation was enhanced in the early 50’s at a well-attended after-hours Maynard Ferguson concert in Las Vegas where Walt was invited by Maynard to join him on stage for an extended series of “fours.” Those present reported that Walt held his own with Ferguson.

During that period he worked with such prominent arrangers and bandleaders as Jerry Fielding and Elliot Lawrence, and later toured Europe with Xavier Cugat.

In 1956 Walt joined Buddy Morrow’s orchestra, playing lead trumpet and serving as chief arranger. He created Morrow’s milestone album “Golden Trombone” and cemented his reputation as a brilliant arranger. After that he was much in demand as an arranger and wrote extensively for major bands all across the country. 

After leaving Buddy Morrow in 1958, Walt worked with several other bands and in 1966 moved to Las Vegas. Returning to the East Coast in 1971, he toured with the “Steel Pier Big Band Revue” stage show which included a stint on Broadway. 

Walt moved to Orlando in 1973 where he focused largely on arranging. He is survived by his son Brett and his sister Louise Stuart Davis.

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Harold Wax 

Harold Wax, 86, an accordionist and bandleader and an 802 member since 1940, died on Sept. 3.

By the age of 13, Mr. Wax was already playing in his family’s tavern. At 18, he received a phone call from Artie Shaw, who had just formed the U.S. Navy band. Since they couldn’t bring a piano on tour, he wanted Mr. Wax to play all the piano parts on his accordion. By the time he was discharged in 1946, he and the band had traveled more than 165,000 miles. 

In 1948, while playing a job in Manhattan, Lester Lanin heard Mr. Wax and offered him a job. This association lasted more than 50 years. He traveled the world as a leader of the Lester Lanin Orchestra.

Mr. Wax played for royalty. In Monaco, he played at the 21st birthday of Princess Grace’s son Albert. He played at the wedding receptions of Princess Diana and Prince Charles and also Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. He played at Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday celebration.

In the U.S., Mr. Wax and the Lester Lanin Orchestra played at the inaugural balls of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. He also played at the wedding reception of JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier.

Mr. Wax continued to perform with his own orchestra throughout Florida. He performed his last gig only days before he passed away.

Harold Wax is survived by his wife Beverly; his daughters Merle, Karen and Shelley and grandchildren Stephanie, David and Leslie.

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