Passing Notes(5)

April 20, 2006

Guitarist Bill DeArango, whose innovative single-note stylings graced recordings and performances of jazz greats including Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie, died of pneumonia on December 26, 2005, at the age of 85. DeArango, a Cleveland native, made a name for himself after moving to New York City in the early 1940s and immersing himself in the developing bebop movement. In a 1996 interview he told GP that he developed his “intricate but still laid back” style by listening to Art Tatum and Lester Young records, and applying what he learned to the guitar. Eventually tiring of the commercial pressures of the New York music scene, DeArango returned to his hometown in 1948, where he ran a music store and served as a mentor for several generations of Cleveland musicians. One such musician, saxophonist Joe Lovano, had this to say about DeArango: “Bill had such a beautiful spirit. He was a true improviser. He didn’t like to count off tunes, he wouldn’t tell you what key he was playing in, and he didn’t like arrangements. He would just play.”

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