Deceased April 5, 2020

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In Memory

That great horn is silent. John, beautiful cornet player and generous performing classmate, died April 5 of a heart attack at home in Mountainside, N.J., at 89. He was “one of the finest jazz cornetists playing today, bar none—professional or otherwise,” said New York Times music critic John S. Wilson in 1970.

John played trumpet at Pelham High and switched to the cornet at Amherst, playing countless New England college gigs. After service with U.S. Army intelligence, he worked briefly at Time, then spent years on Wall Street and New York’s jazz scene. He played with many groups, including his own Speakeasy Jazz Babies, the Red Onion Jazz band, Woody Allen’s New Orleans Funeral and Ragtime Orchestra and the Williams Reunion Band, with whom he regaled our reunions also.

He played many Sunday nights at the Water Front Crab House in my nearby Long Island City, often inviting me to sing a few ballads, a personal thrill. Those guys were really good, as you learn well singing with them.

John leaves his wife of 37 years, Vivian; four children, Alissa, Anne, John III and Laurie; four grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and a sadder surviving class.

Jack MacKenzie ’52