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Eddie Hazell

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Eddie Hazell Obituary
VERNON -- Jazz musician Eddie Hazell performed for five decades in clubs and concerts in the U.S. and Canada, and he was particularly well known in the New York area, playing in clubs ranging from MichaelÕs Pub and StrykerÕs in New York to the Newport Jazz Festival. He died Tuesday, Nov. 2, at age 76.

The singer-guitarist, who recorded his first album in 1961 at age 27, was familiar to jazz aficionados from his numerous albums and television appearances including the 'Merv Griffin Show,' 'AM New York,' the 'Today Show,' 'Kraft Music Hall' with Ed McMahon and 'Broadway Tonight.' His work also was popular in Japan.

Hazell, a native of New Jersey, grew up in the Little Falls area during jazzÕs golden age and began his music career while still in high school, with a band called the 3 Echoes. A stint in the Army during the Korean war sidetracked Hazell for a few years but he returned to music in the late 1950s and went on the road, playing clubs from Mr. KelleyÕs in Chicago to the Town Tavern in Toronto and The Tenement, The Happy Medium and The Most in Manhattan.

In the 1960s, he was headlining clubs with comedians Bill Cosby, in Chicago, and Rich Little, at the Four Seasons in New York and the Americana Hotel in Puerto Rico.

Writing in the New York Times in June 1975, critic John S. Wilson reported on HazellÕs trio at StrykerÕs Pub in New York: 'Nothing that Mr. Hazell chooses to do can be taken for granted, because his approaches are personal and imaginative and the guitar solos -- both chorded and single-stringed -- which are spread generously through his work, put an emphasis on a combination of both rhythm and melody that is rarely followed by jazz guitarists these days. What he achieves is an unusual mixture of superior supper club performance and bright, swinging, exciting jazz.'

Between gigs and recording much of the great American songbook on albums for various labels including Columbia and Audiophile ('Eddie Hazell Live At GulliverÕs,' 'Take Your Shoes Off Baby,' 'Eddie Hazell in Concert,' 'Eddie Hazell Live From The Embers' and more), he also did TV commercial work as a singer and performer for various products including Chase & Sanborn coffee.

'(Anyone) who is sensitive to the interplay of vocals and self-accompaniment would appreciate EddieÕs work. I think that the way Eddie Hazell matched his vocals with instrumentation, as his own accompanist on guitar, was outstanding. EddieÕs voice, his style, his phrasings and his choice of material demonstrated musical knowledge and a good taste,' nationally known radio jazz host Leigh Kamman told HazellÕs biographer Ed Petkus. He wrote 'Someone Out There Is Listening', which was published earlier this year by Hamilton Books.

Bob Daniels, a longtime reviewer for 'Variety' and a lifelong friend of HazellÕs, said: 'Eddie really knows how to improvise and possesses the musical skills and knowledge that work hand in hand with interpretive nuances. Above all he knows his instrument and brings good taste to his solo performances.' From the 1980s through to a few years ago, when Hazell stopped performing due to complications from ParkinsonÕs Disease, the Eddie Hazell Trio played concerts and clubs in the New York-New Jersey area with drummers Lou Slingerland and later Vinnie LeBue and with bassists Bernie Taylor and later Jim Hankins.

Hazell is survived by his wife, Anne Nielsen Hazell; his daughter, Naedine Hazell, editor of The Hartford Courant, and son-in-law Stan Godlewski; two sons, Edward Hazell, a computer VP of Information Systems, G & W Labs Inc., and daughter-in-law, Marytza, of Oak Ridge, and Kevin Hazell, tech coordinator for the Pompton Lakes schools and daughter-in-law, Sharon, of Glenwood; his stepdaughter, Maegann Struble and Floyd Struble and stepson Ned Meeder, all of Vernon, and stepdaughter Deborah Gallagher in Florida; and nine grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Naedine Thompson Hazell. Visiting hours are Saturday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Scanlan Funeral Home, Pompton Plains.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Eddie Hazell Jazz Foundation and mailed to the Lakeland Bank, c/o Denise, 529 Route 515, Suite 101,Vernon, NJ 07462.

Published in The New Jersey Herald on Nov. 8, 2010
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