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Pianist worked with major namesCopyright © 2003
Bross E. Townsend played with many major jazz names in the course of a long career as a pianist and accompanist. His associations included Woody Herman, Erskine Hawkins, John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson, and many others. He worked with a number of great singers, including Dinah Washington, Little Jimy Scott, Jimmy Reed and Dakota Staton, and played for the Broadway musicals Dinah and Black and Blue.
His family issued the following statement:
Bross Townsend died Monday night, May 12.
Bross was coming along fine, playing his piano, even had gone home several weeks ago to meet with the Home Care Agency rep to discuss arrangements after he moved back home. He had been in the nursing home for 3 years.
His stroke was unexpected, and his wife Hope says that everyone at Jamaica Hospital did everything they could to keep the pulse.
Bross and Hope were married for 38 years (39 in Sept.), and have a daughter Allegra. He also has a son, Bross III, and a daughter, Mona, from a previous marriage. Bross has three grandchildren by Allegra, one each by Bross III and Mona (for a total of five!) and was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, as all can testify.
But he also has two Japanese spiritual "daughters", Kosuzu Ando and Masa
Wada. Bross and Hope were in Japan a number of times, and on one visit in 1992, Kosuzu asked Hope if she could call her Mom, and when Bross came off the bandstand, she asked him. So she was been a daughter since then, and visited Bross when he first got sick, came again last year, and is coming in tonight from Japan.
Masa, who lives in NY but works in NY and Japan, met Bross about 10 years ago at a Jazzmobile workshop, and he has been her mentor ever since. Masa considers Bross and Hope her spiritual Father and Mother. She was a constant visitor at the nursing home.
Many others feel like relatives to this wonderful couple; no one will ever forget the joy and happiness that Bross' music spread. Didn't Bross enjoy himself when he played? Didn't he swing? You couldn't help smiling. Bross was easily one of the finest pianists of our time. He will be greatly missed.
Gifts, messages and cards can be sent to Hope Townsend at: 121-28 Lucas Street, Springfield Gardens, NY 11413.
JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.