Jazz Stories
4:05 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Trudy Pitts in Memoriam by Bob Perkins


Jazz organist, pianist, and vocalist Trudy Pitts passed away on December 19, 2010 at Chestnut Hill Hospital at age 78. A Philadelphia legend, who trained as a classical pianist and blossomed into a jazz great, she played with the best of the best, including her husband, Mr. C. WRTI mourns her passing and celebrates her life.

When Trudy Pitts took to the piano or organ, she played as though each performance might be her last. It was not in her nature to render a perfunctory performance, no matter how small the audience. Few have been more dedicated to their craft than Trudy.

A master at fusing genres of music, Trudy was classically trained, and played organ and piano in church. When called upon to play jazz, she quickly assimilated the complexities of the genre, and added in elements of classical and gospel music - offending none, and complementing all. To paraphrase the slogan of a spaghetti sauce commercial; "It was all in there!"

Trudy went on to become a very prominent jazz organist, at a time when Philadelphia was known as the Jazz Organ Capitol of the world. And she, Jimmy Smith (who started it all), Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Shirley Scott, Don Patterson, and a few others, established the title with their great artistry on the behemoth known as the Hammond B-3 Organ.

It would seem that certain people are born to do certain things as well or better than anyone else. Perhaps it was pre-ordained that Trudy Pitts become a musician, because she excelled at that. If she could have done anything else any better, the world wouldn't have been ready and she may have had to live several lifetimes to explain her work.

To say that she'll be missed by her musical fellows - and the jazz community at large - would be a gross understatement.--BP

More about Trudy Pitts Here:

Obituary from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Trudy Pitts: The Godmother - from Jazz Times in 2007

Trudy Pitts and Mr. C: Partners in Music - from NPR in 2007