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Richard Sudhalter
Writer, musician

Born: December 28, 1938 in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: September 19, 2008 in New York City, New York

Veteran author and trumpeter

Copyright © 2008 

Trumpeter, author and concert promoter, Richard Sudhalter led a rich and varied life in jazz before succumbing to pneumonia at the age of 69.

The son of saxophonist Al Sudhalter, young Dick received early exposure to artists like Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke, and began to emulate the latter on cornet in his early teens. He co-led a Dixieland band with pianist Roger Kelloway -- then a bassist -- and sat in with a number of artists who visited his native Boston. He earned a degree in English literature and music from Oberlin College, and then emigrated to Austria where he taught English to Berlitz students.

After service in the U.S. Army band he joined United Press International and moved to London with the news organization in 1964. Writing as Art Napoleon he contributed reviews of the UK jazz scene to Melody Maker, Jazz Journal and Punch, and with UPI became the only western journalist to cover the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He continued to report on events in eastern Europe for UPI until 1972, when he returned to London to write a biography of Beiderbecke with Philip Evans.

Research for Bix: Man and Legend led him to the discovery of a cache of Paul Whiteman arrangements from the 1920s, which prompted him to form the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra in London. He also led a small group and accompanied Bobby Hackett on a British tour before permanently re-locating to the U.S. in 1975.

In the '70s, he became a music critic for The New York Post and in 1982 he shared a Grammy Award for liner note writing with John Chilton. His best-known -- and most-controversial -- work is the 1999 book Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945, which stirred a significant backlash from those who felt he overstated the role of white players during jazz's formative years.

A third book of note, Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael, was published in 2002. He also continued to make music, including a stint with the popular Classic Jazz Quartet, despite suffering a stroke in 2004.

Sudhalter is survived by his partner, Dorothy Kellogg, two daughters, Adrian and Kimberly, his sister Carol and brother James.

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