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Pianist Ray Kennedy Dies at 58

Was mainstay in John Pizzarelli Trio for years

Ray Kennedy
Ray Kennedy

Ray Kennedy, who served as pianist/arranger with the John Pizzarelli Trio for over a decade, performed with many other artists and recorded with his own trio, died May 28 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis (he had been in a nursing home since 2013). He was 58 and his death was confirmed by Pizzarelli on his Facebook page.

Introduced to jazz by his father at an early age, Kennedy, who grew up neat St. Louis, sat in with Dizzy Gillespie at age 14 and during his career accompanied Nat Adderley, Ruby Braff, Buddy DeFranco, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, David Sanborn, Woody Shaw, Sonny Stitt, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Les Paul and Lionel Hampton, among others. He served as music director for singer Maureen McGovern. Kennedy performed and composed for film and theater and was a featured performer on the late Marian McPartland’s radio program Piano Jazz. He appeared with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, and on TV’s The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien and Late Nite with David Letterman.

Originally Published