I posted earlier this year about the plight of Richard M. Sudhalter, a distinguished jazz musician and scholar whose health has betrayed him:
Dick (he’s a friend) suffered a stroke three years ago. Though he subsequently recovered from many of its effects, he has now fallen victim to a rare, equally debilitating illness of the nervous system called multiple system atrophy. It’s hitting him hard, and his medical bills are piling up.
Alas, good works don’t always reap financial rewards, and Dick has spent the whole of his long, productive life laboring in important but unrenumerative cultural vineyards. He is the author of such essential works of jazz and popular-music scholarship as Lost Chords and Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael. In addition, he co-wrote Bix: Man and Legend, one of the first truly scholarly jazz biographies, and has played on any number of fine recordings, including two of my favorite jazz albums, The Classic Jazz Quartet: The Complete Recordings and his own Melodies Heard, Melodies Sweet. Needless to say, Dick didn’t make a whole lot of money out of any of these undertakings, but he thought they needed doing, so he did them anyway.
The terrible irony of Dick’s condition is that while he can no longer talk intelligibly, he can still read–and write–as well as ever.
What can you do to help?
– If you’re a friend who’s fallen out of touch with Dick, don’t call–send him an e-mail. He’d love to hear from you.
– If you’re an editor, Dick needs work. Don’t be scared off by the fact that he’s unable to talk. Check in with him via e-mail and give him an assignment. You won’t be sorry.
– If you’ve got a few bucks to spare–or more than a few–send him a check. Dick is scheduled to go to the Mayo Clinic in two weeks, and he needs immediate assistance in order to pay for the trip (among many other urgent things).
– If you want to hear what promises to be one of the most exciting jazz concerts of the year, mark your calendar for Sunday, September 10, when Dan Levinson and Randy Sandke will be putting on an all-star benefit concert at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York. The bill includes (among others) Harry Allen, Dan Barrett, Eddie Bert, Bill Crow, Jim Ferguson, Dave Frishberg, Wycliffe Gordon, Marty Grosz, Becky Kilgore, Bill Kirchner, Steve Kuhn, Dan Levinson, Marian McPartland, Joe Muranyi, David Ostwald, Nicki Parrott, Bucky Pizzarelli, Scott Robinson, Randy Sandke, Daryl Sherman, and the Loren Schoenberg Big Band. That’s what I call a big bunch of very heavy hitters.
The address is 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street and the music starts at seven o’clock sharp. Admission is $40, plus whatever else you care to chip in.
To order a ticket to Dick’s benefit concert–or if you simply want to contribute to the cause of keeping him alive–send a check made payable to RICHARD SUDHALTER BENEFIT CONCERT to the following address:
P.O. Box 757
Southold, NY 11971
You can also order tickets online with a credit card by visiting PayPal and using this account:
As I said in June, I don’t make a habit of posting appeals like this, but Dick’s case is special. Even if you aren’t familiar with his indispensable work, take my word for it–he deserves your help.
Pass the word.