May 20,1925 December 20, 2011
Written by Richard DeRosa
Clem DeRosa, surrounded by his family, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at 11PM CST. He succumbed after a long battle with cancer. An internationally respected musician (educator, professional conductor/bandleader, composer, arranger, drummer, and author), his greatest legacy was as one of the pioneers of jazz education dating back to the 1950s. He was perhaps the first public school educator to instill a solid jazz curriculum and teaching method in the 1950s that became nationally recognized by 1961 (his bands appearing on the Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin TV shows) by producing young high school jazz bands that sounded astonishingly professional. Gil Evans, Johnny Richards, and Billy Byers were just three prominent arrangers who were so impressed with Clem¹s results, that they had his young bands perform and record their arrangements.