Hal McKusick (1924-2012) - JazzWax

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April 13, 2012


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Nice and useful article. Thank you!

Doug Zielke

Thank you for the touching and heartfelt eulogy. RIP Hal.

Rab Hines

A good man and a fine musician - my condolences to his family, and to his pal Marc Myers.

Thanks to you both.

Jery Rowan

What a wonderful tribute, Marc. Now I have even deeper regret for not knowing Hal on a more personal level.

Hal, may your reeds always be perfect wherever you are.

T.K. Tortch

Sorry to hear this news and my condolences on your personal loss.

I knew McKusick's name from liner notes where he appeared as a sideman, but I didn't know much more about him until you published your interviews with him on this site. That sparked an interest and I've looked out for his recordings ever since.

That is part of the value of the good work you do with this web site of yours, spotlighting enduring jazz talents like McKusick who have otherwise become semi-forgotten, or forgotten outright, by jazz fans. I truly appreciate that; I admire your dedication to the music and musicians, and I hope you can continue to operate this site for a long time to come.

James C

Ever since I heard Hal's "Blue Who" on the "Behtlehem's Best" 3 record set, Hal has always been one of my favorites, especially in the company of Barry Galbraith. I, as you , are saddened to learn of his passing. Am listening to Konitz and Desmond as I type this but will give "East Coast Jazz Vol. 8"(the first CD I ever bought of Hal's) a spin in his honor.

Some other great albums with Hal are "Earthy" and "Gil's Guests", both on Prestige.

Jerry Roth

I never met Hal, but I knew him well. His son Dick, is a close friend of mine and we have shared the multi-faceted life of his father for years. He was quite the character.

One day, years ago, Dick and I were driving down the road listening to NPR Jazz and the announcer said, "that was Hal McKusick on Alto..." I was impressed.

Now I don't listen to Pandora or Last FM without my "Hal McKusick" Channel.

Hal, your set starts in 5 minutes....
Rest In Peace, my Friend
Jerry Roth
Thousand Oaks, CA

Liz Fyffe

Wow, what a sad thing to see when you first turn on your computer in the morning. I will miss him dearly and my heart goes out to Jan who I know will be lost without him. I had the pleasure of working with Hal and his entourage while I was doing fundraising for The First Presbyterian Church of Sag Harbor. Lots of stories and lots of laughs and he will be missed in our community. Beautiful article and very heartfelt, thank you. Hal, we'll see you again on the other side....Liz Fyffe, Sag Harbor NY

George Held

Thank you for your informed tribute to Hal. I knew him in Sag Harbor for more than 2 decades and heard him play several gigs over the years. You are right: he was a great musician and a fine man.

Mary Ann Cinelli

As a long time resident of Sag Harbor and a lover of jazz, it's no wonder that Hal and I had lots to talk about whenever we'd run into each other in town. He was a great musician and a great man who did a lot for our village with the beautiful concerts he gave over the years in The Old Whaler's Church. He will be sorely missed. Thank you for this wonderful article about him.

A Facebook User

Thank you Mark

Karolina Kusnierz

Always see the little things in life... I cannot upload the picture of the CD I have from relating to this comment but I received a CD from from a patient of mine working for amazing doctors at a Hematology Oncology office in Southampton ... This cd is personally made for me from Mr.McKusick.. Until I was given the cd and googled who he was couple weeks after... He was a person I met in life that inspired me and told me to always keep smiling and being myself because I was amazing at what I did, especially being a phlebotomist. I'm sure I hurt him once or twice when I missed drawing his blood but he never admitted it or showed it. He told me I inspired him because I never judged him... Or who he was. Now ..until I actually read about who he was after the cd was given to me.. It was already too late.. Mr.McKusick passed away April 13th 2012 .. And I feel blessed to have interacted and talked to such an amazing person. He is a prominent jazz musician and Ross school teacher.. He always talked about his wife jan and how amazing she was .. And he always talked about his 3 children & family. He was proud of his family he was excited that I took the time to let him talk about them..he is famous for stunningly smooth, sophisticated style on the saxophone. He is a clarinetist, flutist and influenced countless musicians in life.. He settled in sag harbor and became a music teacher at Ross school.. He is basically the history of post-war jazz ... He lived by the phrase "fun is in the doing" and it's so true... He was a very humble person but inspired so many.. "You kind of don't realize until you get to him" ... What was amazing was I had told mr.mckusic about my hard working dad who is a self made cabinet maker, craftsman... And how what I do in life is because of my dad and how we are alike in many ways.. Mr.McKusick let me know that I should never stop being who I am in life and that I have amazing teachers in life.. Sal McKusick knew I was so skilled with my hands because of my dad.. Now what I mean is ... He knew I was an amazing phlebotomist because my dad was an amazing wood worker, artist and was so skilled with his hands.. Mr.McKusick knew how skilled you had to be to do something like this because he was a talented craftsman as well... He restored his Madison. Street house in sag harbor that he was so proud of.. That house was built in 1796.. Mr.McKusick opened an antique/restoration shop on the 1980s in that house called the little barn antiques which he crafted furniture pieces in for decades... Whenever he came into the office to have his blood work checked his face lit up because I was working that day..he was excited to tell me more about his life and what was more amazing... He related them to my life. He gave me this cd specifically because I didn't know who he was and because I treated him the way I do any other person. Sweet, welcoming, didn't judge... He told me on my way home from Southampton he wanted me to listen to his music .. He put his favorite songs on their and he wanted me to tell him next time he gets his blood checked which is my favorite... I never saw Mr.McKusick after that.. And if I had the chance to tell him I would want him to know how much he has touched my heart and how amazing It is to know I have a cd of favorite songs from such an amazing/inspired musician in history personally made by him... I always say.. Always see the little things in life and never judge people no matter what.. You never know... You seriously never know. I am so happy to be me in life and from my dad and mom as my first amazing teachers in life I am truly thankful for who I am who my family is and how I was raised in life. Rest in Paradise #HalMcKusick 1924-2012 #inspirational #jazz #talent #tirelessworkethic #musician #saxaphone #woodworker #admired #amazing

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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