Alan Joseph, 62, from a heart attack on Dec. 20 in Colorado Springs. Originally from Detroit, he moved to Colorado Springs in the late 1970’s and quickly carved a name for himself in the music community. He founded the guitar studio in the music program at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and taught guitar as an adjunct faculty member. He was also a guitar instructor in the Jazz Studies Department at the Lamont School of Music in Denver. He led his own band, performed with Bernadette Peters, Diahann Carroll, The 5th Dimension, and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and gave generously of his time mentoring aspiring musicians.
Dr. Robert Edward Shanahan, 86, Christmas Day, Sylvania, OH. Bob was a surgeon, a private pilot, an accomplished gardener, and a beloved Dixieland Jazz musician. As early as 1952 he was a member of the Intercollegiate Stompers when they won a talents scout competition. He founded the Epsilon Jass band in 1964. During the ’60s and ’70s he recorded as a trombonist with the Boll Weevil Jass Band. He was currently singing and playing trumpet with The Chefs of Dixieland at venues near his home in Sylvania, Ohio.
Richard Ames, 97, Dec. 28, near Fayetteville, NY. He played in the brass sections of bands during high school and college during the ’30s and ’40s touring at one time with the Playing Parsons. After a hiatus he formed the Dixie Dandies in 1957. They played major festivals, changing the name to the Bear Cat Jass Band around 1970. The band continues to play into it’s 61st year. In 1972 he founded the Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse where he currently held the status of President Emeritus. In 1987 he helped to found the American Federation of Jazz Societies where he served on the Board of Directors for many years.
Maurice Peress, 87, Dec. 31, of Leukemia, in Manhattan. A conductor who worked closely with both Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington. He considered himself a “re-creative artist” and is best known for his re-staging of historical concerts including both the 60th and 90th anniversaries of Paul Whiteman’s “Experiment in Modern Music” that introduced George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” He conducted major orchestras, and the premiere of Leonard Bernstein “Mass”. He worked with Duke Ellington on an orchestral arrangement for Elllington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige”, and the musical “Queenie Pie” which he helped to complete after Ellington’s death. For the last 33 years he had conducted the orchestra at the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music. As an academic he published Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores American Music and it’s African American Roots which traced an arc of mentorship from Dvorak, through Will Marion Cook and Rubin Goldmark, to Ellington, Copland, and Gershwin. He developed his interest in jazz while serving in a newly integrated regimental band after being drafted into the military in 1953.
Marlene VerPlanck, 84, Jan. 14, of pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed in November she continued to perform up to the end. As a jazz vocalist, she began recording in 1955. Touring with the Charlie Spivak Band, she met her husband of 52 years, arranger Billy VerPlanck, who would arrange the music on several of her albums. Together they worked with Tommy Dorsey’s band. In the late ’50s she sang with the John LaSalle Quartet. During the ’60s and ’70s she made a second career as a jingle singer. She was the voice of “Mmm Mmm Good” for Campbell Soup and the “Yeah” in Michelob beer ads. She also sang backing vocals for, among others, Frank Sinatra. In 1979 she re-emerged with a new solo album. Many followed and she toured extensively in the US and abroad.
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