In Memoriam: Dick LaPalm

Published on: October 15th, 2013


Dick LaPalm and Nat King Cole on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Dick LaPalm and Nat King Cole on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Dick LaPalm The Jazz Lobbyist. He transitioned recently and is now in the realm of the ancestors with the likes of Nat King Cole. Knowing what a passionate supporter of jazz he has been, how could we begrudge him such a thrilling reunion! 
I knew Dick for a little more than two years and was struck by his flawless aesthetic. I was stunned when he once called me during my Wednesday afternoon Jazz from the French Market Show on WWOZ and complimented me on my play list. I had just featured a cut from 'Ninety Miles', the newly released 2011 Concord recording featuring David Sanchez, Stefon Harris and Christian Scott when Dick called, and in a breathless, reverential tone, commented on the "gorgeous-ness" of it. His reaction inspired me to coin the phrase "Seriously gorgeous stuff" attempt to define the depths of Revelation that some musicians can conjure up.
I respected Dick LaPalm's aesthetic and I loved his humor. "Goodbye", and "Rest in Peace" are inadequate expressions for cats like Dick LaPalm. I prefer to shout "Au revoir, Mr. LaPalm! And... keep swinging!"
Dick sent me an email with an attached photo (see above) on August 8, 2012.  I’ve often looked at it and smiled, but today I know what he wanted me to do with it!
 “Maryse, mon amie... If, by a remote chance, you happen to be walking across the Michigan Avenue bridge in Chicago, and spot Nat Cole and LaPalm, please give 'em my best wishes. They're both good ol' friends. Hope you can open the attachment. Take care Illinois Jacquet (sent from my steam-powered sundial)”
--Maryse Dejean
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Maryse - what a nice little memoriam. I had the great privilege of knowing Dick for the past 25 years. He was a true friend of music. Obviously I am not alone when I say how generous he was as a human being. If you were his friend he would do anything for you. He was also a lover New Orleans ( I can't remember which one of his sons had the condo in NOLA) . We talked a lot about the city over the years knowing how much I love the city. Dick sent me the same picture many years ago, which is displayed prominently in my studio at home. Anyway just want to say thanks for posting your remembrance of Dick (though he always signed his e-mails and voicemails to me as Zoot Sims)

Jeff Turton

Jeff, thanks so much for your comment. There are many heroes in the music industry, and we need to acknowledge their contributions. It's hard to imagine that talent like Nat Cole, Sarah Vaughn and Peggy Lee might be obscure names if we didn't have a Dick LaPalm lobbying for airplay on their behalf. He did his job with an elegance that is rare nowadays. What a great guy!

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