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Al Tinney Dies

Pianist Al Tinney, who was an assistant to George Gershwin in the mid-1930s and on New York City’s burgeoning bebop scene in the 1940s, died Dec. 11, 2002, in Buffalo General Hospital. He was 81. Tinney had been experiencing health problems, and had to use an oxygen mask for much of the year, but he still managed to perform less than two weeks before his death.

Tinney led a band in the 1940s featuring Max Roach and Charlie Parker before joining the Army. When the pianist’s military stint was up, he returned to New York City but was disgusted to find many of his jazz buddies mired in drug abuse. He dropped out of the bebop scene, eventually had a novelty hit in 1957, “Bad Boy,” and finally moved to Buffalo in the late 1960s, intent on dropping out of music completely and just sell shoes. Tinney was coaxed back into music, however, and he remained a fixture on the Buffalo music scene for the rest of his life, playing both classical and jazz.

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