Dale Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of NYC’s Jazz Gallery, Dies at 72

Presented Chucho Valdés, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, many others

Dale Kelley Fitzgerald image 0
Ingrid Hertfelder

Dale Kelley Fitzgerald

Dale Fitzgerald, co-founder and, until 2009, executive director of New York’s Jazz Gallery, died March 20 in the Bronx, N.Y., after a long struggle with cancer. He was 72.

Dale Kelley Fitzgerald was born on December 23, 1942 in Wakefield, R.I., and received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. According to a statement circulated after his death, Fitzgerald earned a Ph.D in anthropology in 1976 at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught Cultural Anthropology at Brown University, the New School For Social Research and Lehman College. After leaving academia, Fitzgerald took a job washing dishes at the Village Vanguard.

“He started a business moving fine art and antiques, and managed several musicians, including the tenor saxophonists Pharaoh Sanders and Nick ‘Big Nick’ Nicholas,” says the statement, and in 1988, he began a 26-year business relationship with trumpeter Roy Hargrove as his business manager, along with business partner Larry Clothier. In 1992, Fitzgerald leased a practice and rehearsal space for Hargrove at 290 Hudson Street in the southwest corner of Greenwich Village. Fitzgerald, Hargrove and Lezlie Harrison launched the Jazz Gallery there in 1995.

“Fitzgerald, Harrison and artistic director Rio Sakairi would host a multi-ethnic array of New York’s finest young jazz musicians at a stage of their career when they did not yet have access to major club stages, providing artist-in-residence opportunities, composition commissions, mentorship programs and inexpensive rehearsal facilities,” said the statement. Fitzgerald presented the first New York performance by Cuban pianist-composer Chucho Valdés in 1996, and also presented Dafnis Prieto, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran and Miguel Zenón.

To read tributes to Fitzgerald from several jazz artists, go here