March 2006

Fradley Garner By

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Pat Pace was the musical pride of Akron, Ohio, a classical and jazz pianist, accordionist, composer and teacher who made only two commercial recordings, decades ago, both released on obscure labels (one of them maybe his own). For the last 20 or so years, Pace had given up gigging and was living the quiet life, teaching younger pianists. I am grateful to Andrew Homzy of Montreal for e-mailing two articles from the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. In his "Final Coda for Legend of Pat Pace (Jan. 10), columnist David Giffels tells of the second-generation Italian-American prodigy who took all music as his domain and grew up to fame in northeast Ohio. Pace played with classical orchestras and in nightclubs. Years ago, he shook a big drug monkey off his back. Then, writes Giffels, "He stepped aside and his story took over. He transcended. That's what artists do for their communities... They give us something we can't get without them. They make the saints go marching in.

Pat Pace, 75, pianist, accordionist, composer, teacher, Akron, OH, Feb. 19, 1930—Akron, Jan. 6, 2006. Patrick Pace, the son of Italian immigrants and a "community legend who performed at age 5 on accordion on the Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour radio show, was already playing in local clubs at 16, and a year later started on a scholarship at the Juilliard School in New York, died of pneumonia complications. He was 75.

Pace flowed between the jazz and classical worlds. His orchestral works were performed by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, with which he had appeared as piano soloist, and by the Cleveland Philharmonic; his chamber works are played across the country. He performed his piano sonata at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where the great French pianist and educator, Nadia Boulanger, lauded both Pace and his work. He also taught jazz piano at the University of Akron School of Music.

Tom Lord's Jazz Discography CD-ROM 5.0 lists Pace on two recordings, the first with alto saxophonist Charlie Mack on the Paradox label in 1949 and the last, "Pacific, with the pianist leading a trio, released in 1978 on the Pax label. A film, "Feeling Fine: The Story of Pat Pace, portrayed his career and drug struggle to a broad audience. Pace and his longtime friend and collaborator, Roland Paolucci, made some home recordings last summer, not knowing they would be the last, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. It was not known whether they would be released.

Mario Bobadilla, 86, alto saxophonist, Guadalajara, Mexico, Dec. 16, 1919—Los Angeles, CA, Mar. 6, 2006. Mario "Be-Bop Bobadilla, a first generation Mexican-American, toured with the bands of Harry James, Artie Shaw, Phil Harris, Vaughn Monroe, Bob Crosby and Benny Goodman. He was also an accomplished flute and piccolo player. As an 18- year-old, he was already playing in major venues, including Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. He worked in movie studio bands, recording music for several Disney classic films. Retiring from performance, Bobadilla worked for himself for 25 years, repairing and designing special parts for woodwinds in his home workshop. He called himself "the problem solver and relied on word of mouth to promote his business.

Narvin "Ray Kimball, 97, banjoist and vocalist, New Orleans, LA, March 2, 1909—Charleston, SC, March 17, 2006. Narvin Kimball, the last founding member of the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, died at his daughter's home in Charleston, SC, where he and his wife, Lillian, had been living since shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged their hometown. The banjoist and singer performed through the 1990s, before suffering a series of strokes. His spin on Georgia on My Mind always drew standing ovations, according to Ben Jaffe, the band's bassist and director of the hall founded by Jaffe's parents in 1961.

The son of bassist Henry Kimball, Ray fashioned his first banjo from a cigar box, stick and string. In the 1920s he began as a professional banjoist with the Fate Marable Band on Mississippi riverboats. His first recording session was for Columbia in 1928, with the Oscar "Papa Celestin band. The two tracks, The Sweetheart of T.K.O. and Ta Ta Daddy have been released on CD (Jazz Oracle [Canada] BDW8002.) In all, Lord's Jazz Discography lists 17 sessions, the last in 1986 with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, on the CBS (Europe) label.

Kimball led his own group in venues around New Orleans for 39 years, and held a day job as a postman for 37 years with the U.S. Postal Service. He reportedly never missed a day of work. Jaffe said the world jazz community had "lost a link to another time—to another era. He was really our last connection to a bygone time in the history of New Orleans.

Jack Montrose, 77, tenor saxophonist, composer, arranger, Detroit, MI, Dec. 30, 1928—Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 7, 2006. Jack Montrose was a key figure in the 1950s West Coast jazz movement. He worked with the big bands of Shorty Rogers and Tom Talbert, Shelly Manne, Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Clifford Brown and Red Norvo, recording with many of them. After moving to Nevada in 1966, he worked in the casinos, returning to jazz for special concerts, such as a tribute to Lee Konitz in a 2001 American Jazz Institute event. In 1990, Montrose recorded an album for the Holt label, Let's Do It, for which he did the arrangements. In May 2003 he took part in Contemporary Concepts, a West Coast jazz reminiscence hosted by the Los Angeles Jazz Institute.

Other departures: Milt Abel, 77, bassist and key player in Kansas City, Feb. 3; Wim Kolstee, trombonist, and Bolb van Oven, bassist, early members of the Dutch Swing College Band, in February.

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