Monday, November 21, 2011

R.I.P.: Russ Garcia

(born Russell Garcia on April 12, 1916 in Oakland, CA, USA;
died November 19, 2011 in Kerikeri, New Zealand)

Composer Russ Garcia, 95, dies

World-famous composer and arranger Russ Garcia died peacefully at his Kerikeri home at the weekend, aged 95.Garcia was a composer and arranger who wrote a wide variety of music for screen, stage and broadcast.

He collaborated with many musical and Hollywood stars, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Ronald Reagan, Judy Garland, Henry Mancini, and Charlie Chaplin.

He was born in Oakland, California, but had lived in New Zealand for some time.

At the height of his career in 1966, Garcia and his wife, Gina, left the United States and set sail for the Pacific, eventually coming to New Zealand and falling in love with the Far North.Garcia continued to compose and arrange from his Kerikeri home up until his death.

Wellington voice teacher Charles Humphreys commissioned one of Garcia's last arrangements in March last year.

"Russ is a very generous man," Humphreys said. "From the first time I spoke to him I could tell that this was a man who was peaceful and full of the kind of love of life and people that we all search a lifetime to possess. He wrote a lovely arrangement of East of the Sun for me and said 'well I think that will be the last peace of music I'll be writing'.

"I reckon he knew that he might be continuing to write somewhere else. We shall miss him."

A celebration of his life is to be held at 1.30pm in the events hall of the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on Sunday, November 27.

For more infos and a great interview, please check Marc Myers' fabulous website:

JazzNewswire November 21, 2011 - Jazz composer and arranger Russell Garcia, renowned for his collaborations with Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Anita O'Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Frances Faye, Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra and numerous others as well as film scores for George Pal's "The Time Machine" and "Atlantis: The Lost Continent" and his orchestrations for Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight," died Sunday, November 20, 2011. He passed away peacefully at his home in Kerikeri, New Zealand, with Gina Mauriello Garcia, his lyricist and wife of 59 years, by his side. He was 95.

In April, Mr. Garcia performed three 95th birthday concerts throughout New Zealand with New York vocalists Shaynee Rainbolt and Terese Genecco and New Zealand singer Tim Beveridge.

Mr. Garcia, who was fondly known as "Uncle Russell" by his much-younger musical collaborators around the world, was scheduled to continue his 95th birthday celebration during a three-city U. S. tour at jazz clubs in Los Angeles (Catalina's), Oakland (Yoshi's) and New York City (Iridium), but he suffered collapsed vertebrae the week before he was set to travel. Instead, the Los Angeles concert was cancelled and his tour partners, Ms. Rainbolt and Ms. Genecco, paid tribute to Mr. Garcia and his music at Yoshi's on November 1 and at Iridium on November 6. The Garcias enjoyed the Oakland concert via Skype while the New York celebration was streamed live, with Mr. Garcia and his wife commenting on the music and musicianship throughout both evenings. "It's hard to believe that we're sitting here in New Zealand on Monday afternoon taking part in a live concert in New York on Sunday evening," Mr. Garcia said about the technology of live stream.

Russell Garcia was born April 12, 1916, in Oakland, CA. Throughout his career, the jazz composer provided arrangements for many singers and instrumentalists and recorded more than 60 albums under his own name. In addition, his book, The Professional Arranger-Composer, has been a valued tool for both beginners and veterans since it was written in the mid-'40's. When describing the orchestral sounds that emerged from the West Coast jazz scene during the 1950's, the name of jazz composer Russell Garcia always comes to mind. In 2007, Mr. Garcia entrusted Ms. Rainbolt to record the first-ever album of all Garcia originals entitled Charmed Life. Arranged by Mr. Garcia for his signature four-trombone band, this collaboration included a U.S. tour and garnered two MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards for Best Jazz Recording (Charmed Life) and Best Song (I Remember, Music by Garcia and Lyrics by Rainbolt & Garcia.) A top seller on CDBaby, the album also was chosen by as one of their Top 10 CDs of 2008.

In addition to his wife Gina, whom he married 60 years ago on December 24; Mr. Garcia is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Judy and Henry Kulp of California; four grandchildren, Kristy Corwin-Dupont, Sean Lurie and Melody Kulp-Reinstein of California and Donny Kulp of Hawaii; and seven great grandchildren, Curtis Corwin, Capri Corwin, Kaden Lurie, Collis Lurie, James Reinstein, Lila Reinstein and Ginger Mancia-Kulp, all of California. Mr. Garcia was preceded in death by his son, David Garcia, in 2007.

Go here to read the interview with Russ Garcia that was published in the October issue of Jazz Inside Magazine.

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