Sonny Dallas Memorial Concert Monday, September 17th 7:00 to 10:00 PM at St. Peter's Church


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A Memorial Concert for jazz bassist Sonny Dallas is scheduled for Monday September 17, 2007from 7:00 to 10:00 pm at St. Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th Street, New York City.

Organized by New York area saxophonists Richard Tabnik and Bob Keller, the concert willfeature remembrances and performances by some of Sonny's close friends from over the years. Schedules for some performers remain to be finalized but several musicians associated with jazz pianist Lennie Tristano will be present including saxophonist Jimmy Halperin and pianist ConnieCrothers. The 'house rhythm section' will consist of bassist Ed Schuller and drummer RogerMancuso. Admission is free.

Jazz bassist and singer Sonny Dallas, 76, has passed away on July 22 on Long Island after aseries of heart related illnesses. Sonny began his jazz career in the late 1940's in Pittsburgh andrelocated to New York in 1955. He went on to perform and record with a long list of jazz greats including pianists Lennie Tristano and George Wallington and saxophonists Lee Konitz, WarneMarsh, and Phil Woods. He also appears on a number of critically acclaimed jazz recordings -"Motion" with the Lee Konitz Trio, “Phil Talks with Quill" with the Phil Woods Quintet, and"Descent into the Maelstrom" and “Note to Note" with Lennie Tristano, among others. Aftermoving to Long Island in the late 1960's he wenton to earn a Master of Arts degree in musiceducation and began a long teaching career at both Suffolk County Community College andDowling College. He was honored with a lifetime achievement in jazz award in 2005.


The jazz community along with his many friends and his loving family are saddened by the passing of Frank “Sonny" Dallas, jazz bassist and educator, age 75, who died at Brookhaven Hospital, Long Island, NY, on July 22, 2007 of heart failure. His career began in the 1940's and he continued to perform until 2006. Eugene Chadbourne of Verve recordings wrote “Dallas has a superb reputation . . . nobody articulates a quarter note like he does." He was “a bassist associated with the top end of complexity in modern jazz, providing an accurate harmonic framework for the improvisations of players such as saxophonists Lee Konitz and Phil Woods and pianist Lennie Tristano. Dallas has a suburb reputation as a bassist."

Born Francis Dominic Joseph Dallas in Rankin, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, he launched his music career as a singer in local bands. This led to his interest in playing bass. He studied bass with Herman Clements, principal bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, who also taught jazz bassists Ray Brown and Paul Chambers. By the mid '50s, he began working with bandleaders Charlie Spivak, Ray Eberle, and Claude Thornhill.

He relocated to New York in 1955, and began performing and recording with a long list of jazz greats such as guitarist Sal Salvador, clarinetist Tony Scott, trumpeters Chet Baker and Buck Clayton, guitarist Sal Salvador, saxophonists Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Phil woods, Gene Quill, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, drummer Elvin Jones, and pianists Mary Lou Williams, Bill Evans, George Wallington, and Lennie Tristano. He performed and recorded with Tristano for nine years and appeared with the Lennie Tristano Quintet on the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival All-Stars tour as well as appearing with the Quintet on the 1964 CBS Broadcast “Look Up and Live". Then Sonny moved to Long Island where he lived in an apartment in Lennie Tristano's house in Hollis, NY. Sonny and Lennie would play informal sessions at home in 1964 and 1965. These sessions led to many gigs with Lennie's Quintet as well as Lennie's album “Note to Note". Sonny also had a close friendship and performed with singer, Jackie Paris.

A “Downbeat" article listed Sonny as one of the top ten greatest jazz bassists. He played on more than twenty critically acclaimed jazz recordings including “Motion", “You and Lee", with the Lee Konitz Trio, “Phil Talks With Quill" with the Phil Woods Qunitet as well as “Descent into the Maelstrom" and “Note to Note" with Lennie Tristano. He is included in “The Encyclopedia of Jazz" by Leonard Feather (1960, page 173).

While living on Long Island, he earned a Master of Arts degree in music education at CW Post University and began a long teaching career at Suffolk County Community College and Dowling College. He taught music classes, led jazz ensembles, and taught countless private students over the last thirty-five years while continuing to perform on an occasional basis, primarily with Lee Konitz. He was featured in an interview with Rick Petrone broadcast on WYRS-FM in l981, and was honored with a lifetime achievement in jazz award in 2005.

A fitting tribute to Sonny was made by his friend John Klopotowski, guitarist, who said he was “A big man with an even bigger heart. Sonny will be lovingly remembered and sorely missed by all those fortunate to have been associated with him." Drummer, Eric Haft, an alumnus of Dallas' jazz band says, “He was one of a kind, a bassist whose harmonic sense was unmatched. He was one of the rare bassists who could play a solo that moved you."

A Memorial Concert for jazz bassist Sonny Dallas is scheduled for Monday September 17, 2007from 7:00 to 10:00 pm at St. Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th Street, New York City. Friends who want to send condolences, recollections, and memories of Sonny Dallas may email his brother, jazz trombonist, Joe Dallas.

This story appears courtesy of Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services.
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