In happier times -- Jim at an outdoor gig, 1977
The sad news — courtesy of Dawn Lambeth and the Dixieland Jazz Mailing List:
Dear Jazz Family,
We are sad to announce that the great reed player, Jim Rothermel, has passed away last night (Monday, May 16) from leukemia. Marianna August, his loving partner for the past 10 years, called with the sad news. Jim had been diagnosed with cancer of the blood in June, 2010, but continued to play with his and other bands up through early this month, when he made a valiant rally to record at his home with some of his band mates, including Larry Vuckovich, Shota Osabe, Al Obidinski, Tony Johnson and Randy Vincent. Marianna will have more details later, but Jim’s son and daughter will need finances now to help pay his medical expenses. We ask if you are able to contribute to this fund, that you write a check to Jim Rothermel and mail it to his address at 14 Seibel St., San Rafael, CA 94901.
Jim took an active part in the San Francisco music scene since the mid-60s, and was an accomplished and talented musician, proficient on saxophones, clarinet, flute, recorder and harmonica. He was adept in a variety of musical styles: Dixieland, Swing, Big Band Jazz; Western Swing, Rock and Roll, Blues and Folk. Jim had toured and performed extensively with numerous major artists in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada, and was a seasoned studio musician with featured performances on more than 100 recordings. He led two recordings of his own: NeoClassic Swing (2001) and Memories of You (2011).
Jim played at prestigious festivals and concert halls, including Monterey Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Bix Beiderbecke Festival, Indianapolis Jazz Festival, Sacramento Jubilee, Carnegie Hall, Universal Amphitheater, The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, The Great American Music Hall, as well as several Bread and Roses festivals.
He had performed/toured with Bucky Pizzarelli, Charlie Byrd, Jay McShann, Buddy DeFranco, Terry Gibbs, Steve Allen, Charles Brown, Dr. John, Norton Buffalo, Steve Allen, Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats, Maria Muldaur, Boz Scaggs, Jesse Colin Young, Van Morrison, David Grisman, and many others. He had played on several film and TV productions, including CKVU’s Vancouver Live; and specials for CBS (Canada), NTV (Japan) and Belgian National TV. He was two-time Bay Area Music Awards (BAMMY) nominee, and was a featured performer on the 1987 Grammy Award winning album, A Tribute to Steve Goodman. Jim was also an educator, having worked in the Bay Area Music in the Schools program, and as a jazz saxophone instructor at Sonoma State University, and a guest artist-clinician at Santa Rosa and Delta junior colleges.
The late San Francisco music critic Phil Elwood called Jim “the Bay Area’s most versatile and brilliant woodwind performer – among the best instrumentalists in the country, and in the studios”. Randall Kline, director of the San Francisco Jazz Festival, called Jim Rothermel: “a Bay Area treasure”. Jim led his band in a fantastic Benny Goodman centennial tribute at the San Francisco Jazz Festival in October, 2009, on which Larry was honored to play; Jim’s band opened for clarinetist Eddie Daniels and his quartet.
Jim led his own Jim Rothermel Swingtet, and his Neo Classic Swing Quintet, and played with many other outstanding Bay Area bands, including the Larry Vuckovich All-Star Big Band, Harold Jones and the Bossmen, Mike Vax’s Great American Jazz Band, Full Faith and Credit, The Oakland A’s Swingers, Don Neely’s Royal Society Six, The Golden Gate Rhythm Machine, Warren Gale Sextet, Peter Welker Sextet, Bryan Gould’s Swing Fever, and in a special combo with his sweetheart vocalist, Marianna August and her Jazz Pals.
This is a deep, personal loss for us. We will miss Jim’s beautiful playing and his sunny sense of humor. The closer we’ve become to both Jim and Marianna, the more our respect has grown for the depth of their courage, love and determination during this struggle. We will let you know more details as they unfold. We send our deepest love to Marianna and Jim’s children, Diana and David, and grandchildren. You can read more about this talented, warm-hearted, courageous man at:www.jimrothermel.com
Larry Vuckovich / Sanna Craig