05/29/14

Pianist Frank Strazzeri Dies at 84

Session man and leader for more than six decades

Frank Strazzeri, a pianist active for more than 60 years, mostly in the Los Angeles area, died May 9 at age 84 in Rochester, N.Y., where he was born April 24, 1930. A cause of death was not available.

Strazzeri began his musical career playing tenor saxophone and clarinet at age but switched to piano. After attending the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, he began working locally as a sideman for visiting jazz stars, including Billie Holiday. In the mid-’50s Strazzeri relocated to New Orleans, where he played with Charlie Ventura and Woody Herman, among others.

After moving to L.A. in 1959, Strazzeri became active on the local bop scene and as an in-demand studio session player. He worked with a long list of leaders ranging from Chet Baker (serving as music supervisor for the Baker documentary Let’s Get Lost) to Cal Tjader, Art Pepper, Maynard Ferguson and Louis Bellson, but also toured behind Elvis Presley in the early ’70s.

Strazzeri recorded nearly 20 albums as a leader as well, beginning in the late ’60s.

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