Joel DiBartolo, jazz educator, award-winning musician

Joel DiBartolo

A musical tribute is planned for jazz legend, string bass virtuoso and educator Joel DiBartolo at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. The NAU School of Music jazz ensembles will offer a second musical tribute at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.15, in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium.

Mr. DiBartolo died Sept. 27, 2011, in Scottsdale.

He was born on Nov. 24, 1945, in Buffalo, N.Y., the son of Rose Sedola and Angelo DiBartolo. He received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Buffalo and played with the Buffalo Philharmonic under Josef Krips and Lukas Foss. He subsequently served in the military during the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Army Band Jazz Ambassadors. Following his discharge, Mr. DiBartolo’s jazz performing career skyrocketed through high-profile collaborations with Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione and Buddy Rich.

A few years later, trumpeter Doc Severinson invited him to join The Tonight Show Band (when Johnny Carson was host), where he remained for 18 years. As a band member, Mr. DiBartolo received a Grammy Award for “Best Jazz Instrumental Performance—Big Band” for the 1986 recording, Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band, Volume I.

His Broadway and Hollywood credits included musical theater productions (Cats, Evita, Les Misérables), television theme songs and soundtracks (M.A.S.H., Dallas, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Heat of the Night, Little House on the Prairie), and more than 60 film scores (Saturday Night Fever, Jaws, Star Wars, Rocky).

Throughout his long and distinguished jazz career, Mr. DiBartolo performed with musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Carmen McRae, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughn.

Seeking a change of pace from the Los Angeles studio scene, He moved to Arizona in 1994. A year later, he joined the School of Music faculty at Northern Arizona University as director of jazz and assistant professor of string bass. Mr. DiBartolo was sought after nationally and internationally as a jazz educator. His technique book, Serious Electric Bass, has influenced a generation of bass players. Locally, he performed with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra.

Friends, students, colleagues and family will cherish memories of his roguish humor, the mischievous glimmer in his eye, his love of Italian sports cars and his devoted friendship.

He is survived by wife, Mary Frances Beadell DiBartolo; two children from a previous marriage, Adriana DiBartolo (Claremont, Calif.) and Cristina DiBartolo (Thousand Oaks, Calif.); a grandson, Miles Bennett (Thousand Oaks, Calif.); two brothers, Russell DiBartolo (Shirley), Henderson, Nev., and Henry DiBartolo, (Susan Rall), San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and two sisters, Joanna DiBartolo (Ray Miller), Chicago, and Rosanne Bushnell (Art), Manassas, Va.

In lieu of flowers and gifts, contributions may be made to the Joel DiBartolo Jazz Scholarship (#1327), NAU Foundation, PO Box 22459, Flagstaff, AZ 86002-2459, or to the Local 47 (LA) Musicians Foundation, Messinger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary is handling arrangements.