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Stan Wright, music teacher and gifted jazz performer, dies at 62

Stan A. Wright, seen in an undated photo,

Stan A. Wright, seen in an undated photo, taught his students to enjoy learning how to play. Credit: Sean Wright

Stan A. Wright, an upbeat music teacher and gifted jazz performer, thrived on sharing the joy of music with students and audiences alike.

He loved the "light bulb moment," as he called it, when a concept clicked for a student and he could see it in the player's face.

He enjoyed "the interaction with students, seeing students learn and when that light bulb came on and they got something," said brother Sean Wright, 53, of West Babylon.

Wright taught guitar, bass and drums for more than 30 years on Long Island, most recently at the East End Arts School, a nonprofit organization in Riverhead. The jovial virtuoso wanted students to have fun and not get stressed out when learning an instrument, friends and family said.

"He was easygoing and very forgiving," his brother said. "If you couldn’t play something right, he’d work with you until you got it because he wanted to see you be successful at it."

Wright, a longtime Riverhead resident who moved to Florida in February, died Oct. 10 at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, Florida, after having a stroke, his family said. He was 62.

"My brother was so full of life," said sister Keyana Wright, 48, of Lindenhurst. "He made everyone smile when he walked into a room. He made everybody laugh."

Sean Wright said that he experienced his brother’s gentle nature firsthand when he was learning to play the tenor saxophone.

"He always made me feel good," Sean Wright said. "I could sound horrible and he’d say, ‘Yeah man, you sound good.’ He never said, ‘You sound bad and you need to work on this,’ or, ‘Go practice, you’re not practicing enough.’ He was the same way with his students. He would say, ‘Hey, you sound great and let’s try it again.’… The kids really vibed off of that."

Born Aug. 5, 1958, in Los Angeles, Stan Wright moved with his family to Brooklyn in the mid-1960s and to Brentwood in 1971. While attending Brentwood Ross High School, he was obsessed with all things music. Mastering the guitar and immersing himself in as much jazz and R&B as possible dominated much of his time.

"He practiced all the time," said childhood friend Mike Adams, 62, of North Carolina. "All he wanted to do was play. We used to get together every weekend and listen to music. We’d listen to a lot of blues, rock, R&B and jazz. We collected albums. We’d go to record stores, buy different albums. He was more into Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Albert King and B.B. King."

After high school, Stan Wright studied under legendary jazz guitarist Pat Martino, driving from his home in Brentwood to Martino’s in Philadelphia for lessons.

"Pat elevated his skills to such a high level, it got ridiculous," said Sean Wright. "I’d hear him play or just warm up and the lines that he would blow through so fast, it was second nature."

Stan Wright also studied under accomplished jazz guitarist John Scofield, Sean Wright said.

Stan Wright played in many bands throughout his years on Long Island, including the Little Wilson Band, the King Charles Band, and Ben Tinker and the Starfish Band. He could be seen playing at restaurants all over the East End, including Claudio’s in Greenport, Starr Boggs in Westhampton Beach and Dockers Waterside in East Quogue, Sean Wright said.

"He was a very good rhythm guitarist and could also solo very well," said Shenole Latimer, the former education director at East End Arts School. "He understood jazz and blues and was a very good improviser."

In addition to his sister and brother, Stan Wright is survived by his mother, Helen Wright of West Babylon, brothers Richard Wright of Bay Shore and Kevin Wright of Georgia, niece Karriemah Bennett of Amityville and nephew Jordan Wright of Florida.

A memorial will be held Nov. 7 at the Lindenhurst Moose Lodge. Stan Wright was cremated, his sister said.

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