These are the remembrances as they ran in the print publication of the paper, many other obituaries, and longer individually sharable obituaries for those listed below, are posted here as soon as the news comes in.
Bill Reid, 84, in England. Before his primary career as a music promoter began in the early 1960’s he was a double bass and tuba player with various jazz bands in England including Terry Lightfoot’s New Orleans Jazzmen, with Ginger Baker on drums. He also played with Ken Colyer and with the Alex Welsh Band. He toured with Louis Armstrong in Europe. Early in his career as a rock promoter he booked The Beatles for their first show outside of Liverpool. He went on to run several famous venues and promoted for The Who, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones. His clubs in are remembered as an incubator of the Punk Rock scene. He was also a farmer who restored wildflower meadows and served as Joint Master of Foxhounds for a notable British hunting society.
Stan Reynolds, 92, April 15 in Britain. He started touring as a trumpet player at age 14, the war years creating opportunities for musicians too young to be drafted. After the war he joined the Tommy Sampson Orchestra before being recruited to Ted Heath’s band. He played with Heath for three years before going to Spain to play with Rick Lewis. He later returned to the Heath band for another several years. He was then part of Geraldo’s Orchestra, a prominent radio big band. He went on to lead his own band which opened for touring American acts, including six tours with Tony Bennett, and did freelance work including the Judy Garland Show. He maintained a rehearsal group with whom he continued to play until just two weeks prior to his death.
James Caine, 91, April 11 on the Isle of Man. A pianist and radio personality known as the father of jazz on the Isle of Man. In 1946 he joined a hotel swing band with drummer and bandleader Hugh Gibb, father of four sons who would form the Bee Gees. The boys thought of him as an uncle. He compared his piano style to Carroll Gibbons. He played with his own trio as well as several larger bands at venues throughout the island. In the early 60’s he began radio broadcasts which he would continue until 2016. He hosted Jim’s Jazz Hour, a program that became known as Sweet and Swing and continues now as Jumpin’ In, hosted by his sons Howard and Chris. He brought many jazz notables to the island and was a pioneer of live outdoor recording for radio in Europe. A CD of his Trio made from reel-to-reels dating from 1963-68 was released as Saturday Night at the Arragon and raised substantial money for island charities.
Bob Dorough, 94, April 23 in Mt. Bethel, PA. He served with the Army Band during the war playing saxophone and clarinet as well as piano. After attending The University of North Texas he pursued graduate studies in music at Columbia in 1949 and became involved in the New York Bebop scene. In 1954 he was part of a musical revue organized by boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. When the review was canceled he worked in Europe with Maya Angelou. After returning to New York he produced an album consisting of piano and voice which inspired the “vocalese” singing style in jazz. Miles Davis was and admirer and they worked together at times. In 1971 he was hired to be a writer, performer and musical director for Schoolhouse Rock!, a role he continued until 1985. His songs for the program, such as “My Hero, Zero,” earned him a Grammy nomination. He continued to release albums, the most recent (in 2015) consisting of jazz standards.
Charles Neville, 79, April 26 in Massachusetts. The second oldest of the Neville Brothers, played saxophone for the band that commingled all the native strains of New Orleans music and rose to national fame in the 1980s. Raised on Valence St. and at the Calliope housing development in New Orleans by the early 50’s he was touring in backup bands for R & B stars and was a member of the house band at New Orleans legendary Dew Drop Inn. He was stationed in Memphis after joining the Navy in 1956 where he played with Beale St. musicians before jumping on tour with B.B. King.
His life and early career were often sidetracked by addiction and he served time in Angola for Marijuana possession in the early ’60s. While in prison he played with other notable incarcerated New Orleans musicians and studied music theory. After spending time in New York he was persuaded to return to New Orleans by his uncle, George Landry, a Mardi Gras Indian Chief who joined him with his brothers for The Wild Tchoupitoulas, a breakthrough album of material from the New Orleans Indian subculture. That collaboration grew into the Neville Brothers band. The band became New Orleans royalty and was the closing act for The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for many years before disbanding in 2015.
Brooks Kerr, 66, April 28 in New York City. Duke Ellington once told a group of students “If you have any questions about my music just ask Brooks Kerr.” Left with limited sight due to a medical error in early infancy Kerr began to learn piano at age two, initially associating a color with each note. After hearing a Folkways collection his parents owned he became fascinated with jazz and determined that Ellington’s music was especially colorful. He first met his hero at age five and became a sidekick for the band, catching as many shows as possible. He began to apply an encyclopedic memory to Ellington’s compositions, hounding the band to play obscure numbers from decades before. By his teenage years he was touring with them. Towards the end of Duke’s life he chose Kerr to sit in for him at events he was too ill to attend.
His musical interest expanded to include the stride piano styles of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. As he told it to the New York Times in 1974, “I was trying to play stride when I was 7, 8, 9, but my hands weren’t big enough. When I was 12, I was finally able to reach the notes—the tenths. This was more important to me than adolescent puberty. I knew then that I could arrive.”
In his adulthood he played in a quintet with Paul Quinichette, Gene Ramey, and Sam Woodyard and his own trio with Ellington sidemen Russell Procope and Sonny Greer. He giged with numerous other Ellingtonians such as Ray Nance and Francis Williams. He often preformed obscure works by Ellington at clubs and hotels around New York City, and was part of several tributes to the composer. His depth of knowledge made him a constant resource for researchers. He also became friends with Irving Berlin after highlighting some of that composer’s forgotten works. He recorded in the 70’s and 80’s, most notably tributes to Ellington, Berlin, and Waller.
Tony Pringle, 81, May 4, in Massachusetts, from complications of heart disease.
He was the best musical import America ever received from Liverpool. In 1957, while still training for his day job in telecommunications, he formed The Druids Jazz Band. They became the house band at The Cavern, a basement jazz club in Liverpool. The Cavern was friendly to skiffle bands, so they also hosted the Beatles while they were still The Quarrymen. Pringle moved to the US in 1967 and within two weeks was part of the Exit Jazz Band with Stan Vincent, Stan McDonald, and Gil Roberts.
In 1969 he joined The Black Eagle Jazz Band, led by Tommy Sancton. Initially he played trumpet but soon switched to cornet. The Black Eagles separated after a final performance at the 1971 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In September 1971, the group reorganized with some personnel changes as the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, and soon began their long residency at Yeadon’s Sticky Wicket Pub.
In the decades to follow The New Black Eagle Jazz Band became one of the best known and most respected Dixieland bands in the country. They recorded albums on their own Black Eagle Label and others. Pringle’s playing, influenced by Bunk Johnson, Kid Howard, and others, gave the band’s music a catchy, old-time feel.
Bob Byler, 87, passed away on April 28th in Venice, Florida. He was a traditional jazz superfan who was well respected in the Dixieland community for his decades of writing for The Mississippi Rag and other publications. He was also a videographer who, along with his wife Ruth, who passed away four years ago, taped hundreds of hours of concert footage at jazz festivals in all 50 states and over 50 countries. The video is preserved online and in several institutional archives.
While teaching Journalism in Ohio he founded the Evansville Area Jazz Club and helped produce four jazz festivals and numerous concerts. In more recent years he had been an active supporter of jazz societies in Florida and covered local jazz in the Venice Gondolier Sun.
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