Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Billy Hall, jazz pianist, dies in Orlando Florida

Orlando lost Billy Hall, one of its jazz treasures this week after a battle with "C". I remember when I was a little girl and nobody in the family was allowed to mention the word 'cancer' aloud. My grandmother referred to it as a kena herra (phonetical spelling), which was a Jewish expression that implied something like a hex, or at least that's what I understood it to mean. She and other adults referred to it simply as C, or the Big C.

Billy Hall was not afraid of the word nor of the disease. He fell ill only months ago but left the hospital feeling better. It wasn't long before he returned, was diagnosed and placed under the care of Hospice. He passed away on Monday, November 16, 2009.

The jazz community knew him quite well. He performed all over Central Florida and participated in the House of Blues School House teaching children about the origins of blues and jazz. Over one year ago, he founded a weekly event called the Monday Night Jazz Jam (a.k.a. Jazz for Jesus) which was hosted by Yvonne Coleman at Beluga, a restaurant in Winter Park. His core band played for free with a large brandy snifter for tips placed on the front of his grand piano. Each week a charity was chosen and the tips were donated to help the community. The recipients were not chosen by religion, race or background; simply by need.

Beluga closed its doors suddenly on a Sunday and the jam joined the ranks of the homeless. But not for long. The Grand Bohemian Hotel welcomed the musicians and fans into The Boheme Restaurant and they quickly picked up where they left off. Billy was a staple at the Grand Boheme's Bosendorfer Lounge.

Although his friends, family and fans will miss him terribly, Billy was a man of extreme faith. He always said “While I am here, I’m happy walking for him and when I’m called, I’ll be happy walking with him. I win either way!”

1 comment:

Orlando Wedding Photographer said...

After reading your blog, I thought your articles is great! I liked your articles and Photographs. Your blog is very useful to me. Here you are provideing such a greatful information.

Thanks for sharing.......