Entertaining Musician, Ad Man Paul West Dies

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Paul West
Paul West, an ebullient pianist, singer and humorist who entertained several generations on Seattle's lounge scene from the 1950s forward, died Monday.

He was 76. The cause was prostate cancer.

Though Mr. West worked much of his life as an advertising man by day, he played music by night. He was probably best known for his '70s trio BLT—Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato—featuring bassist Rolf Johnson (son of well-known Seattle architect Sig Johnson) and vocalist Gail Clements.

Seattle's cocktail-lounge scene—all but vanished now—thrived until the early '80s and featured jazz-inflected soloists and combos playing music that could slide easily from background to foreground. BLT played at the Sixth Avenue Motor Inn, among other venues, across the street from the present Jazz Alley.

A fan of bluesy pianists such as Mose Allison, Oscar Peterson and Ray Charles, Mr. West was well-respected in Seattle jazz circles, singing Allison's “Parchman Farm" in a husky baritone and also doing a respectable rendition of hipster comedian Lord Buckley's bit, “The Naz."

“Paul was so literate and witty, just a very funny man," recalled Bob Nein, who also worked in the music business and advertising. “I remember being at a New Year's Day bowl party. ... They had a couple of backs named Rogers and the announcer said something about 'the injured Rogers.' Paul said, 'Injured Rogers and Fred Astaire.' “


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This story appears courtesy of Seattle Jazz Scene.
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