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Herb Wong, jazz icon and educator, dies at 88


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Easter Sunday this year saw the passing of Herb Wong, 88, a long-time Menlo Park resident renowned internationally as a jazz expert and educator.

A mysterious box sparked Mr. Wong's lifelong fascination with jazz. As young boys, he and his brother Elwood had just moved with their parents to Stockton when a package arrived on the doorstep, addressed to the former occupant.

“As any boys would, they opened it up," said Paul Fingerote, a colleague and friend for more than 30 years. “They found jazz (records) and Herb said, 'This is my music.'"

The two men were collaborating on a compilation of Mr. Wong's liner notes and recollections, a project Mr. Fingerote intends to complete. “Herb was a living history of jazz... his writing was so exquisite, so sharp. It wasn't just the music he captured, it was a sense of the times."

Dubbed a “Renaissance man" because of talents that spanned multiple career fields, Mr. Wong wrote about and produced jazz shows for decades, and spent more than 25 years sharing his musical passions with others.

“Before they called it jazz education, this is what Herb was doing," Mr. Fingerote said.

He served as president of the International Association for Jazz Education and was elected to the Jazz Education Hall of Fame. Seven original jazz compositions have been written in his honor.

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