Leonard Balaban
{ "" }
Share
Share Leonard's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
BALABAN, LEONARD J. “RED” Leonard J. (“Red”) Balaban, former owner of the New York jazz club Eddie Condon’s and musician who played a key role in revitalizing America’s interest in Dixieland jazz, died at age 84 on December 29th at Milford Hospital after a brief illness. Born in Chicago on December 22, 1929, Balaban was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. He attended Ethical Culture School in New York City and Milford Academy in Connecticut, and later graduated from Brown University, where he met Maxine “Micki” Israel, his wife of 62 years, who survives him. As a teenager, enamored of Dixieland music and its great instrumentalists, Balaban tried to hang out at Eddie Condon’s club in Greenwich Village, but was bounced for being under age. When Condon himself met Balaban near the stage door, he invited him in, and by the time Balaban moved south after college, he had made friends with many of the musicians he had long admired. Living in Florida, Balaban raised black angus cattle and also began to play music, starting on his son’s toy ukelele. By 1967, the farm was sold and the family moved to West Haven, so Balaban could play full-time. During this period, he became determined to revive the early 20th century music still being played by his older, illustrious friends. After Condon died, his wife Phyllis allowed Balaban to name his new club after Eddie, for what would be a 10-year run. Even after the club closed in 1985, Balaban continued to spread his favorite musical style throughout the Northeast as leader of Balaban and Cats, and playing with other groups. Besides the club, Balaban was proudest of the CDs he later produced with names such as “Home Cooking” and “Son of Home Cooking” on which he recorded himself singing and playing all of the instruments. In recent years, Balaban also began writing a blog called “Fare and Fowl.” A lifetime Democrat and political satirist, he wrote for a steadily widening circle of family, friends, and others who sometimes shared and sometimes debated his commentary. In addition to his wife, Micki, and his sister, Judith, Balaban he is survived by his son Michael, of New York; son Steven and wife Kyle, of San Diego, and their children Max and Bret; and by daughter Rachel and her husband, John Burnham, of Middletown, R.I., and their children, Isabel, Olivia and Sophia. He also leaves behind his beloved ginger Maine Coon cat, Rosie. A service for family and close friends will be held at 2:30 pm, January 5th, at Shure Funeral Home in New Haven. It will be followed by a larger, musical, memorial celebration of his life later this winter. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Neighborhood Music School, 100 Audubon Street, New Haven, CT 06510.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The New Haven Register from Jan. 2 to Jan. 3, 2014.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
10 entries
May 28, 2014
I just learned of Red having passed today. Red would bring is his old Gibson tenor guitar in for repairs many times determined to keep the Dearmond pickup working. He loved to perform.
Ken Johnson
April 8, 2014
Mrs. Balaban,
Sorry for your loss. That's a long partnership you shared.
I think of you from time to time and how kind you were to me during my NHS days.
Be well,
Loretta Meyer
Loretta Meyer
March 31, 2014
So sorry for your loss.
Pearl Rozner Lipner
January 14, 2014
My sincerest condolences. Micki, you know he's still playing and singing......
Cindy Mansi
January 7, 2014
Steve, Kyle and Family,
Please accept my condolences on the passing of your Dad. By his obituary, he really had an active and interesting life.
Warmest regards,
Don
Donald Siclari
January 3, 2014
Since 1986, it has been a wonderful experience to know Red and Micki. They came to my home to buy two Ebony Oriental Shorthairs, Harry and Elmer, litter mates. Lenny was wearing his fishing jacket so the kittens loved him at first site!!! I have many memories over the years of these dear friends. I still enjoy listening to Lenny's CD"S. Love, Natalie Rawls
January 3, 2014
Thoughts and prayers for the family. May your memories last forever!
Terry Dixon
January 3, 2014
Lenny was also an avid fisherman. He loved to fish for blues out around LIS and I was lucky enough to be invited several times. Kathy Mulligan
January 3, 2014
I can proudly say "I knew you when", as a young girl growing up in the rural Panhandle of Florida. Your creative passion and unfettered spirit were evident, even then. You became and forever remain "one of us".
Janis Williamson
January 2, 2014
Ah, Red. What fun you gave was way back when. Thanks so much.
Paul Huwiler
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences