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David W. Remington

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David W. Remington, of Beulah, 80, died Friday, June 8, 2007 in Traverse City, MI. Born in Rochester, New York, October 10, 1926, David came from a family of professional musicians. The son of Emory (a respected trombone teacher and chairman of the brass department of the Eastman School of Music [ESM]) and Laura (an accomplished accompanist and organist), he studied harp and piano at ESM from the age of 5 to early adolescence. Groomed from his youth as an orchestral harpist, a career in which his sister Janet flourished, he instead fell in love with jazz in the 1930's. Though his piano and harp training was formal, he was a self-taught trombonist with a few pointers gleaned from his father while shaving in the morning. Starting in 1936 the Remington family spent summers in Interlochen, Michigan while Emory taught trombone at the National Music Camp. At age 14 his older brother Emory Jr. drove David to popular teenage gathering places in nearby Traverse City where David entertained people on piano in ragtime, swing, and traditional jazz styles. In the summer of 1944 he joined the Navy in Traverse City and served in WWII. He graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in 1950 then attended Albany Law School. Later in life he earned a Masters degree in Jazz Studies at Eastman School of Music (1981). Playing jazz piano and trombone regularly in nightclubs, David elected to leave law school and go on the road with a band. As a trombonist, he won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show in 1957. For over 50 years he was a freelance jazz pianist, trombonist, and bandleader in Rockford and Chicago, Illinois, and Rochester and New York, New York. Career highlights include bandleader at Jazz Limited, Café Continental, Pump Room, Wise Fools, and Dick's Last Resort in Chicago; bandleader at the Wagon Wheel Lodge, the Abbey, and Holiday Acres in Wisconsin, a sideman on trombone with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, Lou Rawls, Paul Anka, and in the orchestra pit of "Annie" and "A Chorus Line" in NYC, and numerous recordings. He and his band played both of President Nixon's inaugural balls. From 1970-1974 he chaired the music department at Rockford College. After moving to Beulah, Michigan he taught jazz piano and improvisation at Interlochen Arts Academy (1999-2006). Students remember him as a mentor who honestly appraised a person's ability and potential, and who stressed the importance of memorizing as many melodies as possible exactly as written before attempting to improvise. Colleagues remember him as a bandleader who treated his men fairly and led with authority and common sense. He is survived by wife, Karen; sons, Todd (Laurie), Steven (Judith) and Scott; grandchildren, Sara (Daniel), David, Michael, Lauren, Emma, and Eric; sister-in-law, Mary. He was preceded in death by his son, Peter; sister, Janet and brother, Emory Jr. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 28, at the Benzonia Chapel of McElduff-Jowett Funeral Home, with Rev. Stephen Davidson officiating. Burial will be in Benzonia Twp. Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to Munson Hospice or the Benzie Animal welfare League.

Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on June 17, 2007
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