Legendary jazz drummer John Von Ohlen, “The Baron,” died on Oct. 3 following a long illness. He was 77.
He was a drummer, bandleader and recording artist. You could only marvel at his effortless technique, his musicality and his seamless communication with his fellow musicians. Small wonder he was the drummer of choice for Rosemary Clooney, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Mel Torme and Perry Como. He toured and recorded with Kenton for two years.
Von Ohlen was one of the last big band drummers of his era.
“Performing with and discussing music — and philosophy — with John Von Ohlen has been one of the great joys of my life,” said Rick VanMatre, saxophonist and former director of Jazz Studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “Asking John to join the CCM jazz faculty in 1985 was the best decision we could have made for the students, the faculty, and the legacy of the Jazz Studies Program.”
John Von Ohlen has recorded an album of piano musings — a surprise for someone who made his mark as drummer for Stan Kenton. Of course, we all know him as the co-founder and anchor of the Blue Wisp Big Band, which still plays every Wednesday night at the Urban Artifact in Northside.
Read about this weekend’s premiere, a new Double Concerto by Andre Previn, written for cellist Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo. Also there, watch Robinson and Laredo as they discuss Previn and play part of his Piano Trio No. 2.