Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dorothy Denny Scardino Dies

Dorothy Denny Scardino, a jazz pianist who held a longstanding gig playing in a Manhattan bank lobby, died March 9 at a hospice in New York City of cancer. She was 82.

An obscure figure in jazz, some may remember Scardino better as Dottie Denny. She issued a couple of 10-inch records under that name in 1953: Dottie Denny Digs the Duke and Dottie Denny Plays Edgar Sampson. Both were on A-440 and remain out of print.

After growing up in the small town of Jefferson, N.Y., and after gigging in Utica, N.Y., Scardino moved to the Big Apple in the 1942 and played with violinist Joe Venuti’s jazz band, as well as with Lester Lanin’s dance band. She later married bassist Charles Scardino and had four children with him. She stopped working as a musician in order to raise her children, but when the kids were grown Scardino returned to performing and took a job playing the grand piano in the Manhattan Savings Bank branch at Third Avenue and 86th Street.

Scardino held that gig for 25 years, playing tunes by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim and others for bank patrons, as well as folks who stepped into the bank lobby just to hear her play. In the late ’80s Scardino was featured in an episode of NBC’s The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd; the scene was shot at the bank and Scardino played “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” Scardino lost her longstanding gig when the bank was sold and the new management did away with providing live music.

Scardino is survived by three sons, a daughter, eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Originally Published