March 23, 1932 - November 17, 2015 Jazz trumpet player Al Aarons died peacefully in his home in Laguna Woods, CA, on the morning of November 17, 2015. He was a featured soloist on recordings by artists like Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and more. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, he later moved to Detroit where began his professional career working with notable pop artists such as Johnny Ray, Laverne Baker, Jackie Wilson, Johnny Mathis, as well as jazz singer Billie Holiday, Yusef Lateef and pianist Barry Harris. Al was on the road with organist Wild Bill Davis performing when he was discovered by Count Basie. He continued working with artists like the Four Tops and Della Reese when he got "the call" from Count Basie, and the rest is history. Al toured with Basie from 1961-1972 which was considered the "Golden Era" for the band working with artist including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra. In 1969, Al worked with Quincy Jones on "The Music Scene" TV show. He later became a well respected studio musician and played on countless recordings, from albums, TV and movie soundtracks. Al's studio work lead to a close association with composer Henry Mancini, with whom he would work with for seventeen years. Al continued to perform in the Los Angeles jazz scene with countless artists across the Southland and eventually leading his own group, "The Jazz Caravan" visiting elementary schools around Los Angeles. In 1983, Al was instrumental in founding the "Los Angeles Jazz Society." Al retired in 2002 after an appearance on the Academy Awards in an on-stage performance celebrating the movie score from "Chicago." "I had no idea which direction the trumpet would take me, but I was hoping it would take me in a good direction, and it did." (Al Aarons, 2014). Al is survived by his loving wife, Janet Lewis-Aarons of 23 years. He was preceded in death by his parents Manther and Tempie Aarons; his brothers Ernest Aarons, Robert Aarons Phd., and his daughter Diane Aarons who died the same date 38 years ago. He is survived by his daughter Kellie Allen and son Asa Aarons. Three grandchildren Darius, Tiffany and Natassja. Four great grandchildren Anthony, Azaria, Makayla and Amare; a host of other nieces, nephews, family and friends who loved him very much. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Operation Blankets of Love in Granada Hills, CA.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, 2015.