[JPL] Jazz great Teddy Washington dies at 78
drjazz at drjazz.com
Wed Jul 22 23:34:25 EDT 2009
Teddy Washington, a Jacksonville native who played the trumpet with such
giants as James Brown, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and
Dizzie Gillespie, died Tuesday night. He was 78.
Mr. Washington died at Shands Jacksonville, apparently from
complications caused by a blood clot, said his manager, Ron Pathac.
Pathac called Mr. Washington “one of Jacksonville’s cultural jewels ...
our own ambassador of music.”
“A kind and gentle man,” said Cindy Mosling, founder of the bird
sanctuary B.E.A.K.S., for whom Mr. Washington played charity concerts
for more than 20 years.
After moving back to Jacksonville in the early 1980s, Washington was
best known for his involvement with the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
Inducted into the festival Hall of Fame in 2006, he performed in the
festival 19 times, most recently this spring with other members of the
Hall of Fame.
“Teddy was a giant,” said Dan Kosoff, who spent eight years as festival
director. “He not only played for us, he brought a lot of friends. He
was more than a local legend. He was absolutely respected all over the
country. Everybody loved Teddy.”
Mr. Washington, who grew up in LaVilla, began playing music when he
picked up a bugle at 8. Soon he switched to the trumpet.
One of his favorite stories from his musical boyhood was joining a band
that included R.C. Robinson, a blind singer who was living with an aunt
in LaVilla while attending the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
in St. Augustine. R.C. Robinson went on to fame as Ray Charles.
After graduating from Old Stanton High School in 1949, Mr. Washington
was drafted and played with the Army band. Back in civilian life, he
toured for a time with B.B. King.
He told the Times-Union in 2007 that he was performing at the Palms, a
club at 45th and Moncrief previously known as the Two Spot, when he was
spotted by James Brown in the early 1960s. Brown invited Washington to
join his band.
In a 1985 interview with the Times-Union, Brown said he had wanted Mr.
Washington to remain with the band. “I enjoyed working with Teddy
Washington,” Brown said. “... He was a very fast and a very accurate
But Mr. Washington left Brown so he could work in New York City and Miami.
In 1975, with his mother in poor health, he made the first of a series
of returns to Jacksonville. But the city, once a musical hotbed, had
very few jazz venues and Washington soon moved to Atlanta.
In 1979, he was involved in an automobile accident that almost derailed
his musical career. He told the Times-Union in 1985 that he fractured
his pelvis and tore ligaments in his right arm. As a result, he was
forced to learn how to play the trumpet left-handed, an incredibly
difficult transition he eventually made.
He returned to Jacksonville in 1981 and launched a cable TV show, “The
Teddy Washington Show,” that lasted about five years.
In the last decade, Mr. Washington, who had an extensive collection of
musical memorabilia, became increasingly interested in musical history.
Beginning in 1999, he produced a series of awards shows, called the
Teddy Washington Follies, that honored those who had contributed to
Jacksonville’s musical heritage.
“He really wanted to better the conditions of his fellow musicians in
Jacksonville,” said his brother, Frank Washington.
In addition to his brother, who lives in Jacksonville, Mr. Washington is
survived by three sons, Teddy Washington Jr., of Washington, Roderick
Washington, of Los Angeles, Terry Washington, who lives in Germany, and
a daughter, Mistye Washington, who lives in Atlanta, as well as eight
Funeral arrangements are incomplete. There will be a celebration of Mr.
Washington’s life at the Jacksonville Landing at a date not yet determined.
Dr. Jazz Operations
Oak Park, MI 48237
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