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Ken Revell, musical performer, dies at 85

An undated handout photo of Ken Revell.

An undated handout photo of Ken Revell. Credit: Handout

Ken Revell, 85, a reed player in well-known swing bands and a musical theater performer in later years on Long Island, died July 30 of Alzheimer's-related causes at the Apex Rehabilitation and Care Center in Huntington Station.

His family said he played flute, clarinet and saxophone with the big bands of Billy May, Sammy Kaye and Les and Larry Elgart.

"Locally, he played with the Huntington Community Band, Sound Symphony, the Dom Musicarros Band and Dean Karahalis Concert Pops Band, and the Dance Band at the Jones Beach Bandshell," said his daughter Diane Schaber of Melville.

"I remember as a child going to Jones Beach with dad . . . listening to him belt out 'In the Mood' on his saxophone," as he walked down the boardwalk, Schaber said.

She said her father worked as a private music teacher for many years in the Huntington area, and also at Harborfields High School and Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville as a band director and music instructor.

Revell was born in 1926 in Minneapolis. He married his wife, Minnie, in 1946, after finishing two years in the Navy. He attended the Manhattan School of Music. The couple moved to Levittown in 1951 and to Huntington Station in 1963.

He was a member of the Dix Hills Evangelical Free Church, where he performed on several fronts.

"He was active on our worship team, which accompanies our singing week by week in a band style worship gathering," said the pastor, the Rev. Stephen Arters. "He also played regularly at our Christmas productions."

Karen Yelaney of Farmingdale, a pianist and musical director at the former Plaza Playhouse in Bethpage, called Revell "a marvelous musician and a good friend." Yelaney said Revell played with many theatrical music groups on Long Island, including the The Gray Wigs, begun by Hofstra University alumni.

Besides his wife and daughter Diane, Revell is survived by another daughter, Karen Bartels of Huntington Station; a sister, Joanie Murphy of Minneapolis; a brother, Richard, of Minneapolis; three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

A funeral was held Aug. 2, and burial followed at Calverton National Cemetery.

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