Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandObituaries

Jazz pianist Marty Napoleon Sr. dies

Marty Napoleon, a jazz pianist who played with

Marty Napoleon, a jazz pianist who played with Louis Armstrong, Gene Krupa and other greats, died April 27, 2015 at a recovery facility in Glen Cove. He was 93.

Some of Marty Napoleon Jr.'s neighbors in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, were blue-collar families who had not seen much of the world.

They liked hearing his father, jazz pianist Marty Napoleon Sr., regale them with tales of seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum while on tour with Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa.

"It was pretty cool having a father who was a musician," Napoleon said. "My dad being a musician, he was kind of a strange character."

The elder Napoleon, who played with a Who's Who of jazz greats during a long career, died Monday at a care facility in Glen Cove. He was 93.

Napoleon's career included stints playing alongside stars such as Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Charlie Ventura, Teddy Powell and Coleman Hawkins, his family said. Napoleon also appeared on screen as a musician in films such as "The Glenn Miller Story" and "Raging Bull."

After moving from Brooklyn to a Glen Cove assisted-living facility, Napoleon recorded several albums and played live shows, often wearing his trademark sailor's cap. At 91, Napoleon played with a quartet in a show that lasted 2 1/2 hours, his son said.

"I have the best job in the world," Napoleon told Newsday in 2011. "I just love that I can wake up in the morning knowing that I get to do what I love."

Born in Brooklyn and raised in a musical family, Marty Napoleon Sr. joined comedian Chico Marx's band when he was 20. Later, he replaced Earl Hines in Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, with whom he toured the world and made frequent television appearances.

He told Newsday he left Armstrong's band briefly when his wife, Bebe, complained of the toll his career took on the family. He later rejoined the group. The couple had been married for 67 years when she died in 2008.

Napoleon and his late brother Teddy, also a pianist, played in a quartet in Las Vegas. In 1992, Marty Napoleon played a one-man show at Carnegie Hall.

"Music was his life and his love, except for my mother," said the younger Napoleon, 64, of Manhattan. "He was at the piano all the time."

In addition to his son, Napoleon is survived by his daughter, Jeanine Goldman of Roslyn, four grandchildren and a great-grandson. A religious service will be held at noon Friday at McLaughlin Kramer Megiel Funeral Home in Glen Cove. Burial is to follow at St. John Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.

Latest Long Island News