Obituary: John Oddo

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John Oddo is perhaps best known to jazz fans for his spell in the early 1980s as pianist, arranger and sometimes composer with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, appearing on the Concord Jazz release Live At The Concord Jazz Festival and the Eastworld album Aurex Jazz Festival ’82.

This was followed by a long tenure as musical director and accompanist for Rosemary Clooney. Among many albums with Clooney are Rosemary Clooney Sings The Music Of Irving Berlin, … Sings The Music Of Jimmy Van Heusen, … Sings The Lyrics Of Johnny Mercer (with Mercer), My Buddy (with Herman), and At Long Last (with the Count Basie Orchestra), all on Concord Jazz. His composition Chrysalis was recorded by the CSULA Jazz Ensemble and Theme In Search Of A Movie by the Elmhurst College Jazz Band.

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, 21 March 1953, Oddo studied at the Eastman School of Music, earning a masters degree in jazz studies before joining Herman. During his time with Clooney and subsequently he was also active in New York’s theatre world and in both television and recording studios.

His theatrical work included Dame Edna Everage’s All About Me, on which he collaborated with Michael Feinstein and for which his orchestrations were nominated for a 2010 Drama Desk award, and Tony Danza’s cabaret show, Standards & Stories.

Among television shows on which he worked were The Songs Of Randy Newman and Our Town (both with James Naughton for PBS), the NBC special Scott Hamilton & Friends, as well as Michael Feinstein At The Rainbow Room and Michael Feinstein New Year’s Eve At The Rainbow Room. Other artists with whom he worked as either accompanist or arranger or both are many, among them Patti Austin, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Barbara Cook, Christine Ebersole, Stan Getz, Toots Thielemans, Linda Ronstadt, John Pizzarelli, Steve Tyrell and Joe Williams.

John Oddo died suddenly at his home in White Plains, New York, 2 April 2019. He is survived by his wife Eileen (née Johnson), daughter Annie, son Timothy, his parents Anita and Vincent Oddo, and brothers James and Richard.