Pittsburgh jazz pianist dies at 76
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Michael “Dodo” Marmarosa, a jazz pianist who played with luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Rich in the 1940s before a military stint derailed his music career, has died. He was 76.
Marmarosa died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pittsburgh, where he lived the past few years, playing the piano and organ for other residents and guests.
“He was truly one of the legendary bebop players,” said Tony Mowod, a radio host on WDUQ and founder of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society.
Marmarosa joined the Johnny “Scat” Davis Orchestra at age 15 in 1941. He then played with Gene Krupa’s band and moved on to Charlie Barnet’s big band, when he recorded “The Moose” and “Strollin’.”
Marmarosa played with Gillespie, who filled in for one of Barnet’s sick trumpeters, before joining Dorsey’s band in 1944. That band included Buddy DeFranco, Sidney Block and Buddy Rich.
Marmarosa joined Artie Shaw’s band later that same year and in 1947 was selected by Esquire magazine as one of the nation’s top jazz artists, along with Miles Davis, Sonny Stitts, Milt Jackson, Sarah Vaughn and Pittsburgh bassist Ray Brown.
Marmarosa disappeared from public view in the early 1950s after a series of personal tragedies and a short stint in the Army.
He briefly re-entered the national jazz scene in the early 1960s to record for the Argo label and with Gene “Jug” Ammons. But he spent the rest of his performing days playing restaurants and lounges in the Pittsburgh area.
Marmarosa is survived by two sisters, Doris Shepherd and Audrey Radinovic, both of Glenshaw, Allegheny County, who requested a private funeral and burial.