In Memory of a Jazz Fan Extraordinaire
Karl Tyler passed away on September 29, 2016. On October 29, there was a memorial service at Pittsfield Cemetery officiated by Rev. Timothy Weisman of Zion Lutheran Church. Karl was a Jazz enthusiast and played the bass, sang, and danced. He was a fan and friend of the legendary Jazz composer and pianist Randy Weston, percussionist, pianist, Ethnomusicologist, Fulbright Scholar and tap dancer Royal Hartigan, and most of the Berkshire County Jazz players and fans.
Karl’s lifelong love of Jazz was a central part of his life, and was equaled only by his expertise for Jazz history, styles, and musicians, many of whom knew and highly respected Karl. He would customarily be asked to sit in and scat sing or whistle solos with a group. On many occasions, he would trade short solos with world-class New York Jazz artists playing in the Berkshires, such as Randy Weston’s famous sextet at Avaloch Inn in Lenox during the 1950s and 1960s.
Karl was a legend for his quick memory of people and places in Jazz among the Berkshire Jazz community and among many players in New York. Karl was a member of Zion Lutheran Church of Pittsfield.
Of the attendees at the memorial service were Royal Hartigan, Dick Di Nicola, Ted Murray, and Rich Vinette, all musicians who knew Karl and remembered his enthusiastic presence at any and all jazz happenings in Berkshire County. (If there was a riff in the air…Karl would be there).
Royal Hartigan recited a poem at the memorial and led the musicians in a short West African inspired ceremonial musical piece in Karl’s honor.
After the service, Karl’s family wanted to thank the four musicians for bringing the spirit of Jazz to the service and insisted on giving them each a crisp $100 bill. The musicians in turn have donated the entire amount to Berkshires Jazz, Inc. in Karl’s name and his spirit in supporting Jazz.
We are pleased to post this recollection of a consummate jazz advocate, and welcome additional contributions, either in someone’s memory, or to help Berkshires Jazz continue on our journey, Donations may be made anonymously or attributed.
R.I.P., Karl Tyler