He was a violist, violinist and strings and orchestra contractor who studied viola at the Curtis Institute of Music and graduated in 1952.
From the early 1960s his career saw him performing as a much respected musician in the recording studio, in virtually every genre of music, as well as being called upon as a strings contractor and/or orchestra contractor for groups and artists over at least five decades.
Some of the many artists he has worked with include the Backstreet Boys, Philip Bailey, LuizBonfa, Tom Browne, Change, Hank Crawford, P.M. Dawn, Deodato, Jackie DeShannon, Divine, Yvonne Elliman, Fania All-Stars, Maynard Ferguson, Aretha Franklin, Eric Gale, Steve Goodman, Lena Horne, Janis Ian, Bob James, Yusef Lateef, Carmen McRae, Wes Montgomery, Mandy Patinkin, John Pizzarelli, Esther Phillips, Portishead, David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Mongo Santamaria, Lalo Schifrin and Sylvia Syms.
As you can imagine, his album output his phenomenal but just a small amount of them are What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Evolution: The Polydor Anthology by Roy Ayers Caliente! By Gato Barbieri, Live at Carnegie Hall by Shirley Bassey, At Carnegie Hall by Tony Bennett, Chic by Chic, Times Of Our Lives by Judy Collins, Man Who Invented Soul by Sam Cooke, Everything Must Change by Randy Crawford, First Take by Robert Flack, Wind Beneath My Wings by James Galway, Mickey One by Stan Getz, Billie Holliday Revisited by Bille Holliday, One Wish: The Holiday Album by Whitney Houston, Inside You/Real Deal by The Isley Brothers, Love Me Tender by B.B. King, Unite by Kool & The Gang, Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz, Romeo & Juliet by Hubert Laws, Ricky Martin by Ricky Martin, Rhythms of the World by Van McCoy, Silk and Soul of Nina Simone, Circle of Love by Sister Sledge, Oops!…I Did It Again by Britney Spears, Morning Dance by Spyro Gira, Concert by Barbra Streisand, Busy Body by Luther Vandross and Soul Box by Grover Washington Jr.
Another side of his performing career led him into the film studios, often working on the movies of Spike Lee and with the composer Philip Glass, and some of the soundtracks he appears on include Crooklyn, Do the Right Thing (as a member of the Natural Spiritual Orchestra), Get on the Bus, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Naqoqatsi and The Wiz. He also worked as the music supervisor on 1970’s The Angel Levine.
Alongside his movie music he also performed on several recordings from musical theatre such as I Wish It So by Dawn Upshaw and the cast recordings of King David, Victor/Victoria and the Broadway revival 1989 cast soundtrack of Gypsy.
He passed away in November 2013 when he was 84 years old.
Van McCoy recordings
That’s the Joint (Van McCoy)
The Shuffle (Van McCoy)
Spyro Gira recordings
Morning Dance (Jay Beckenstein)
He plays the viola here on Eumir Deodato’s version of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”…..