[Dixielandjazz] Loss of Jazz Musician Frank Mantooth
bowermastergroup at qwest.net
Mon Feb 2 14:11:03 PST 2004
Not OKOM, but still a loss for the jazz community.
World of jazz music feels loss of Mantooth
By SCOTT ALDIS-WILSON, The Garden City (Kansas) Telegram
The music stopped in Garden City as the news was announced Friday.
Frank Mantooth, the community's famous resident musician, an 11-time Grammy
Award nominee and beloved figure, died Friday morning.
Harold Perkins, coroner on duty at the time of Mantooth's death, said
Mantooth died Friday at his home from what appears to be natural causes.
But along with the ripples one would expect in the 56-year-old composer,
pianist and musical arranger's adopted home of Garden City, musicians he has
worked with over the years agree the world of jazz music will be all the
poorer for his loss.
Mike Metheny, former editor of the Kansas City, Mo., publication Jazz
Ambassadors Magazine, said Mantooth's recordings featured a "Who's Who" of
the musical genre that he easily stood among.
"Frank was a very important jazz musician, not just in the Midwest, but in
the entire jazz world," he said. "This is news in the global jazz
Mantooth was born April 11, 1947, in Tulsa, Okla., into a family where his
mother played the piano, which he picked up early on. By the age of 14, he
was playing in public, but couldn't leave the bandstand because of liquor
Years later, the jazz pianist earned his bachelor's degree in music from
North Texas State University in 1969 and contributed arrangements as a
member of the Air Force Academy Falconaires from 1969 to 1973. He followed
that with seven years in Austria, where he earned his piano degree from the
Vienna Hochschule fuer Musik in 1977.
During the following years back in the United States, it would be difficult
to list all he accomplished. Mantooth has been commissioned to write music
for Doc Severinsen, The Kansas City Symphony and the Madison Symphony
Orchestra. He taught at several universities, high schools and summer jazz
He published five volumes of "The Best Chord Changes for the World's
Greatest Standards" for the Hal Leonard Corp., in addition to more than 165
works for combo and jazz ensembles since 1978.
He was a 1999 recipient of the Florence Crittenton Foundation's Citizen of
the Year award, and that year, the Wichita Jazz Festival also gave him the
annual Homer Osborne award for outstanding contributions to jazz education.
He also was included in the 2001 edition of Grove's Dictionary of Jazz.
He also made five of his own albums that yielded the 11 Grammy nominations.
Marilyn Maye, known in her own right as the only vocalist to appear 76 times
on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," worked with Mantooth several times. In
fact, she was working with him on his last project, a combination of female
vocalists and instrumental music he was arranging before his death.
"He was a genius musician in the world. It's not just Kansas or the Midwest
or the U.S.," she said.
He also became known for bringing his equally respected friends like Maye
home frequently for events like the Garden City Jazz Festival and the
Jared Willson, now playing drums professionally for more than five years in
Tennessee, said it was Mantooth who recommended him to a man recruiting
musicians for a dinner theater and got things rolling.
Friday night, he said he was in shock that Mantooth is gone.
David Basse said he was playing in a Kansas City, Mo., studio when he heard
the news of Mantooth's death from a mutual friend.
"What musicians will miss about him will be two things," he said. "One is
his ability to take music and make it playable at any level. The second is
that he is such a shining light and such a marvelous person."
Marvelous included his own language for things, like nicknames for his
friends. Basse, a vocalist, was "Voice," and his friend Mantooth was
Vocalist Kevin Mahogany and bassist Bob Bowman were among the last of
Mantooth's friends to perform with him Jan. 17 in Great Bend. Both also had
performed with him in Garden City in recent years.
"I remember that he loved his family and he loved his music," Mahogany said.
Though all of his skills will be missed, Mahogany said, perhaps the biggest
hole he will leave will be in the music he arranged.
Bowman said he played with Mantooth since 1977, and like Mahogany, came down
to play at several Garden City events. Despite his enormous skill, he said
Mantooth, who called him "Crow," had no problems laughing at himself and it
put people at ease. It was during one of their projects together in the mid
'90s when Mantooth talked about who he'd found in Garden City in his typical
"He says to me, Crow, I've been smitten between the eyes by a maiden,'" he
recalled Friday night as he headed to Garden City to help the Mantooth
Mantooth's transition to Garden City began with a one-semester residency at
Garden City Community College in 1995. Along the way, he met the "maiden,"
the then-Carrie Hermann, on a blind date and they were married by October
He is survived by his wife.
Basse said some of his musical friends were a little puzzled by his choice
to stay in the relatively small Garden City, but not after visiting.
"When it comes down to it. It's a job, and when you get home and take your
shoes off and put your feet up, that quality of life is what it's all
about," he said.
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