Brooks Kerr

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Brooks Kerr
Birth nameChester Monson Brooks Joseph Kerr III
Born(1951-12-26)December 26, 1951
New Haven, Connecticut U.S.
DiedApril 28, 2018(2018-04-28) (aged 66)
New York, New York U.S.
GenresJazz
Occupation(s)Musician
InstrumentsPiano
Years active1956-2018
LabelsFamous Door
Chiaroscuro Records
Blue Wail Records
Associated actsSonny Greer
Russell Procope

Chester Monson Brooks Joseph Kerr III (December 26, 1951 – April 28, 2018)[1] was an American jazz pianist.[2] He was perhaps best known for being bandleader of a small group featuring Sonny Greer and Russell Procope[3] and for his knowledge of Duke Ellington's work, which he often performed.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Kerr was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Chester Kerr,[5] a notable editor who worked at Yale University Press from 1949 until 1979,[6] and Edith Kerr (née Chilewich), an editor and writer.[2][4]

Kerr was born premature, and suffered from a degenerative retinal disease called retrolental fibroplasia, which made him blind in one eye and only partially seeing in the other.[2] By the time he was 28, Kerr was totally blind due to glaucoma.[2][7]

Because of his blindness, his parents focused on teaching him to focus on other senses, notably music. Kerr learned the piano by assigning colors in his mind for each key.[2][8] He became a child prodigy on the piano.[4]

When he was 2 years old, Kerr took lessons from Jane Stevens at Yale University, and attended Dr. Milton Senn's Child Study Center.[4]

From 1954 to 1956, Kerr took private lessons from Jean Brown. He then attended the Foote School in New Haven.[4]

In 1958, Kerr studied jazz with Lucky Roberts. From 1961 to 1963, Kerr worked with Russell Rega in New Haven.[4]

In 1963, Kerr's parents got divorced. He and his siblings lived with his mother in New York City.[8] From 1964 to 1972 studied piano with Sanford Gold.[4] From 1969 to 1973, Kerr was a student of Willie "The Lion" Smith.[3]

From 1966 to 1970, Kerr attended the Dalton School. He also attended the Manhattan School of Music. He attended The Juilliard School, as well, up until 1972.[4]

Career[edit]

The band Kerr led with Greer and Procope frequented Greenwich Village jazz clubs and hotels in the New York City area.

Kerr was an expert on Duke Ellington.[8]

Kerr also participated in several tributary projects devoted to Duke Ellington that featured former members of Ellington's crew, such as Ray Nance and Francis Williams.

Death[edit]

Kerr died in New York City on April 28, 2018. He had kidney disease.[9]

Discography[edit]

  • 1950: Masterpieces by Ellington, Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – as Research Assistant
  • 1959: Festival Session, Duke Ellington – as Research Assistant
  • 1974: Prevue, Brooks Kerr-Paul Quinichette Quartet with Gene Ramey & Sam Woodyard (Famous Door)
  • 1975: Soda Fountain Rag (The Music Of Duke Ellington) (aka Poodle Dog Rag), Brooks Kerr (Chiaroscuro Records)
  • 1981: Brooks Kerr Salutes Fats Waller, Brooks Kerr (Blue Wail Records)
  • 1981: Brooks Kerr Salutes Irving Berlin, Brooks Kerr (Blue Wail Records)
  • 1982: Brooks Kerr Salutes Duke Ellington, Brooks Kerr (Blue Wail Records)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bebco, Joe (1 May 2018). "Brooks Kerr, 66 – The Syncopated Times". The Syncopated Times.
  2. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Sam (9 May 2018). "Brooks Kerr, Piano Prodigy and Ellington Expert, Dies at 66". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Brooks Kerr: Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Kerr, Brooks (Chester Monson Brooks Joseph Kerr III)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Jazz.com. Archived from the original on 16 September 2012.
  5. ^ Honan, William H. (26 August 1999). "Chester Brooks Kerr, 86, Scholars' Editor". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Heberlein, Regine (processed by) (2010). "Chester Brooks Kerr Papers, 1936-1947: Preliminary Finding Aid" (Finding aid). Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. Princeton University.
  7. ^ Ferguson, Fred (3 October 1982). "Jazz history is bonus for buffs". United Press International.
  8. ^ a b c Wilson, John S. (12 May 1974). "He Knows More Ellington Than Duke Himself". The New York Times. pp. 119, 134.
  9. ^ "Brooks Kerr. Keeping Ellington's Legacy Alive: The Musicians Foundation Helps the Steward of Duke Ellington's Songs Play On". Musicians Foundation. Retrieved 10 May 2018.

External links[edit]