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Remembering Musician George Mesterhazy

Sudden death of beloved Cape May pianist and friend of many leaves regional jazz community — and beyond — shocked and deeply saddened.

By Jeff Schwachter
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 99 | Posted Apr. 12, 2012

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George Mesterhazy, one of  the finest jazz pianists and arrangers in the Jersey shore area, admired around the world, died on Thursday , April 21, Atlantic City Weekly learned the night of his sudden death.

Mesterhazy, who just turned 59, was about to celebrate the release of his latest recording with world-famous singer Paula West, Live at Jazz Standard, with four shows at the Manhattan jazz club scheduled with West (May 10 to May 13). The music veteran was nominated for a pair of Grammys for his work as a player and arranger with his “favorite singer,” Shirley Horn.

The Cape May resident, who played frequently in the resort town, especially at the Merrion Inn — and played most of the Atlantic City casinos, as well as the long-gone Club Harlem, was found dead in his bed of “natural causes,” according to one source close to Mesterhazy.

Mesterhazy had just played with his renowned trio at Sandi Pointe in Somers Point the night before, Wednesday night, April 11.

“It’s a huge loss,” said Nick Regine, president of the Somers Point Jazz Society, and close friend of Mesterhazy. Regine says he found out around 6pm on Thursday that Mesterhazy had passed, just about 24 hours after seeing him perform at Sandi Pointe.

“I just saw him last night,” said Regine. “I gave him a kiss. Not only from the jazz standpoint is this devastating, but he was just the sweetest individual. I just loved the guy. There is a huge hole.”
Dan Anderson, who owns and operates Sandi Pointe with his wife, is stunned.

“It’s kind of strange for all of us right now, really bizarre,” said Anderson, a few hours after Mesterhazy had died. Anderson recalled Mesterhazy the night before as being his “own self — fun-loving, entertaining, joking with the audience in the dining room, telling stories” and playing his expressive and unique brand of piano per usual.

“I’ve only gotten to know George over the past few years, but he’s become part of the family here,” added Anderson.

“There are a lot of musicians who we get to know through events with the Somers Point Jazz Society, and he got to know everybody here and everybody knew him.

“There are some musicians who people get really, really pumped up [to see perform] and he was certainly one of them.”

Bass player and long-time friend and member of Mesterhazy’s trio, Tim Lekan, as well as drummer Paul Jost, rounded out the piano man’s trio for his final set last Wednesday night.

This writer had the opportunity to get to know Mesterhazy, a self-taught pianist, over the years and spoke with him last at the Jazz at the Point festival, presented by the SPJS, in March.

Mesterhazy, with a newly cropped hair-style, faded blue-jean jacket, spectacles and scarf, was in attendance for the Saturday night and Sunday portions of the jazz festival, hanging out at Sandi Pointe with his fellow artists, friends, colleagues and admirers. He was in good spirits as always, and talking about his busy music schedule and the talented musicians headlining the festival.

The local jazz community, after losing Hassan Abdullah in 2011, Johnny Andrews the year before, and now Mesterhazy, is still in a state of shock.

On Sunday afternoon, April 15, a ceremony honoring Mesterhazy was held at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center in Cape May Courthouse.

About 500 people came out to celebrate the life of the respected musician and gentleman of jazz. Poems were read, stories were told and music was played.

The George Mesterhazy Foundation for Music Education, Performance and Preservation will be established in his name.

Regine says the SPJS will pay tribute to the late great Mesterhazy, a dear friend of the organization and its members, in the near future.

There are currently more than 80 tributes and remembrances of Mesterhazy, who was born in Austria of Hungarian descent and lived in Somers Point, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Cape May, on the acweekly.com Web site.

Mesterhazy is survived by his father, Lajos, and four children.

“From a musical standpoint people really admired him, but from a human standpoint people loved him,” said Regine. “It sounds corny, but it’s so true.” 

 

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 99 of 99
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1. Anonymous said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 07:30PM

“blessings to all friends and family ... such sad news”

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2. SFBob said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:03PM

“Over the years of his performing with Paula West, George proved to be a delightful, extremely talented man. He will certainly be missed by many the world over.”

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3. doug r said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:18PM

“I am proud to say that I have worked with George in cape may for the past five years and consider him as one of the greatest individuals I've ever met. He was always eager to cheer people up and his charisma was contagious. George was kind, caring, funny and lived life to the fullest. I've learned so much from him how to enjoy the good times in life and how to deal with the problems that we encounter with a positive attitude. I am honored to have known George and I will never ever forget him and his gusto for life. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family”

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4. Bill L. said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 09:37PM

“Very sad news -- we've lost a fine musician and a very kind soul. Thoughts and prayers for his family and friends ...”

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5. Bill McGlaughlin said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:14PM

“Can't believe this. Was there ever a man more full of life and love and humor and spectacular music?

Too sad to write more.”

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6. Bob Albanese said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:49PM

“George was like an older brother to me. A real friend. We've been piano buddies since I started playing at the Merion Inn in 1977. He would come down and play Jazz gigs with me on bass and guitar. Always very supportive of me musically. Shared his knowledge and cleared a lot of hocus pocus for me as a young learner of the language of music. He hipped me to a lot of great shit that I've carried to this day. After I moved to New York I was pleased to hear that he made the Merion his musical home. Cape May was fortunate to have him! I was there on my honeymoon! After a stretch of time out of touch, we recently have been in close touch. I heard from him on facebook all this past week. My last messeag from him was tuesday. I can't believe it. I'm in shock. He expressed not even a glimmer of concern for his health. God bless his eternal soul. He had enough to fill a universe.”

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7. Sal Riggi said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 10:57PM

“George was a Cape May Jazz Icon. His smile and friendship will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace with God my friend.”

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8. Roy Baker said... on Apr 12, 2012 at 11:21PM

“George would stop in at the Open Mic night at the Pilot House in Cape May and sit in with a bunch of us. When he'd take his breaks from the Merion Inn he'd come down and play guitar, or keyboard or Ipad or whatever. He was a man who enjoyed music for no other reason than he enjoyed music. I've never met a man with more talent and less ego. There are so many of us that will miss him so much. George, whatever you do don't rest in peace. Just keep on playing and kick ass. We'll be there as soon as we can.”

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9. Ron Eschete said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 03:24AM

“I am so saddened. What a shock. So glad to have worked with him again last summer at Yoshi's. He was so full of laughter and joy. A great player, the music world has lost . . . .”

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10. Jill said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 04:53AM

“George was a truly great soul and my heart aches with disbelief. It was my privilege to call him a friend....very sad.”

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11. Howard Paul said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 05:14AM

“George was an inspirational figure to every musician who grew up on his heels. I was very fortunate to have performed with him in the last few years, and introduce him to my family, collegues as Benedetto Guitars, and the jazz fans of Savannah/Hilton Head. His genius and warmth were so unique, those who knew him will never have words to describe him. Goodbye friend.”

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12. Jean Antolini said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 05:20AM

“I had the pleasure to work with George when he donated his time and talents to play at the luncheon for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. He always had a smile and a quick laugh.

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13. vince fay said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 06:15AM

“A greatloss for all who knew, loved and worked with him.

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14. Andy Kahn said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:19AM

“Our musical community just lost a legend in our own time. George and Steinway. Two musical standouts that were perfect together.”

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15. richard rodney bennett said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:29AM

“The fact that Shirley Horn chose him to play for her when she was incapable of doing so, tells us all we need to know. He was a great, warm, expressive pianist and a lovely man.”

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16. Scott Merrell said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:59AM

“I am very saddened to hear this. He was a great musician and a very nice man. My deepest condolences to his family and those that knew and loved him.”

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17. Dean Scarpa said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:14AM

“Words don't come. I never enjoyed playing as much as when I worked with George. Over the years he only got better. I knew George over40 yrs. Music will never feel or sound the same. My deepest sympathy to all who knew and loved him, but most of all to his family.”

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18. Karen Bressler said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:39AM

“On a clear night in Cape May you'll look up and see a shining star that is George Mesterhaze. Still filling our ears with beutiful music and our hearts with the smile of a warm and gentle soul.We will miss him terribly.
Our deepest condolences to Vicki.
Karen & Jack Hallett”

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19. Fred Wackenhut said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:41AM

“George was such an amazing guy. He was so kind to me, sharing musical knowledge and laughter. My condolences go out to his family and friends.”

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20. Kathy M. said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:47AM

“So sorry to hear of Mr. Mesterhazy's passing. Condolences to his family.”

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21. sarah denithorne said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:48AM

“What a sad day for Cape May and the Merion Inn. Didn't know him well, but loved his music.”

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22. Bon Bon said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:57AM

“George,

You were the sweetest person that anyone would want to know. You had a heart of gold, caring, loving and a wonderful friend. I know for myself when I worked at the Merion Inn that you were so friendly. There wasn't a night that went by that you didn't come back to the kitchen to say hello to me and wanted to buy me dinner. I never forgot that. You made my night so much easier. There should be more people like you on the earth. Also, maybe the world would be a better place. A lot of guys should take a lesson from you...a real gentleman. RIP and hope we meet again. You will be missed by many people! Your friend..Bon Bon xo”

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23. MARLENE VERPLANCK said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:59AM

“A SHOCK FOR SURE! MY CONDOLENCES TO ALL THE MESTERHAZY'S
SINCERELY,
MARLENE VEPRLANCK”

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24. michael gold and valerie swigart said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 09:03AM

“George was unique. He was a blend of superb talent coupled with a humanness that few in this world have. He welcomed us to the Merion and, along with Vicky, made us part of their family. He brightened our lives and will always be part of us. He lives on in so many ways.”

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25. Bob Ferguson said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 09:27AM

“George touched so many hearts with music, and he lived life just the way he wanted too, always full tilt and exhuberant !
He was a great friend for over 43 years, we loved playing music and laughing together, and there were many times he acted like a comedienne masquerading as a pianist. George had infinite control of all your emotions when you played with him, his musical knowledge was natural,vast and astonishing. George, the visionary, always had ultimate control of his beloved Steinway piano, or any instrument he played for that matter. We will all miss his beautiful music and that wonderful laughter of our beloved friend.”

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26. Nick and Rosemary Rettino said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 09:29AM

“George Mesterhazy - one of the most special people ever on this earth. He was such an immense talent with an immense spirit and heart. A unique individual who deeply touched anyone lucky enough to even have made his acquaintance. George was a gift to all and his memory will keep on giving because once you knew him you could never forget him. George will forever live in our hearts and minds and I'm sure that of countless others. There is such a deep sadness words can't describe and our hearts truly go out to Vicky, George's family and his family at the Merion Inn. Thank you George for all you've given to so many.”

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27. Robert J. Robbins said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 09:45AM

“I had the pleasure of hearing George at Cape May's Merion Inn numerous times over a period of two decades, and I marveled at his masterful re-creation of Johnny Mandel's dreamy, impressionistic orchestral voicings at the keyboard on the late Shirley Horn's albums. In an age where quality live music is most difficult to come by, George always ranked among its leading purveyors, and he will be sorely missed.”

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28. G.L. Rosenberg said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 10:17AM

“God speed my friend. It was a privilege to know you and call you a friend and colleague. Every track we recorded together starts with you laughing and that pretty much says it all. You approached your music with joy! There is now a vacuum where your humor and musicianship once was. You will be loved and remembered always.”

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29. George P said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 10:50AM

“amazing man in all respects. What a loss. Unbelievable.”

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30. Mark Guest said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 11:14AM

“Shocked and so sad at George's passing. A beautiful example of what a great musician and warm human being should be. I miss you already, George.You left us WAY too soon!”

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31. Craig Thomas said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 11:31AM

“I knew George for 30 years or more. Great musician, great guy.
Just saw him at Carl Mottola's funeral in Dec.”

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32. James & Mary said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 11:53AM

“George used to play "Some Other Time" for us from "On The Town",

a sample of the lyrics, though nothing without the music which George could make sing.


"Where has the time all gone to?
Haven't done half the things we want to.
Oh, well, we'll catch up
Some other time

This day was just a token,
Too many words are still unspoken.
Oh, well, we'll catch up
Some other time.

Just when the fun is starting,
Comes the time for parting,
But let's be glad for what we've had"

The rest is silence, a light has gone out and we will miss him.”

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33. Jim Eigo said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:02PM

“What a shock. Such a great musician and fantastic human being. Just saw him perform with Paula West at last month's Highlights In Jazz. A fantastic performance!
I remember seeing him with Shirley Horn too.
RIP George!”

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34. Patty B said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:03PM

“I've had a handful of opportunities to be on some recording projects w/George...someone else had mentioned that practically every take would begin with George's laughter...so true!! And, it was so infectious... It didn't matter if it was a renowned artist or just some new singer's demo, he put his heart...along w/ his laughter and somewhat 'twisted', loveable sense of humor into every note he played...he brought out the best performances in all of us...condolences to Vicki & his family...there are many heavy hearts filled w/his memory left behind here on earth, and one brand new, very shiny twinkling star in the Heavens...rest well, George...”

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35. Bruce Klauber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:44PM

“I played with George some seasons back during his early days, and was thrilled with his subsequent success. George, even back then, had it all, especially a joyous sense of swing. I told him I'd put him "on retainer" if I could. My prayers go out to all who knew him.

Bruce Klauber”

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36. Carolg said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:59PM

“I am so sorry to hear of Geoge's passing.
He was such a sweet, talented man.
My thoughts go out to you Vicki
xxCarolg”

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37. Arnaldo DeSouteiro said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 01:21PM

“My condolences to all friends and family. I loved George (even when he played melodica!), attended many of his performances, and had written a lot about his recent CD with Lisa Lindsley. He appears in my list of the "Best Jazz of 2011". I'm devastated with this "double-bill" of sad news, since another dear friend - and, coincidently, another great pianist -, Rodgers Grant, also passed away yesterday. May both Rest in Peace.”

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38. robert w richards said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 01:50PM

“I didn't know George well, but well enough to know he was both a superb musician and a superb man. RIP George”

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39. Ellen Gross said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 01:54PM

“I am so shocked and so sorry. george was a talented and loving being.”

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40. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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41. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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42. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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43. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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44. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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45. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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46. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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47. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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48. Jon Weber said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:08PM

“George - we just played duets on your piano in Cape May. Man. I can't believe this. Vicki, he was blessed to know you. I just played one of your charts.... sad news. You were one of a kind.”

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49. Cathy Segal-Garcia said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:28PM

“Shocked and very very sad to hear this. A special person, and a special musician. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his friends and family.”

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50. Ben Johnson said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 02:44PM

“George will be missed. Nice guy; great musician. Here are several images from his gig with Rebecca Parris at The Philadelphia Art Museum in 2005 http://www.benjohnsonjazzphotos.com/Music/George-Mesterhazy-A-Photo/22426124_Gn6wHP

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51. Audrey Puzyr Spies said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 04:14PM

“I am so sorry to hear of this very sad news. My sincere condolences to his immediate family and his music family. I had the pleasure of working with him almost 30 yrs ago in AC. Just an amazing musician. I will always remember the fun times we had in between sets. He will be dearly missed.”

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52. Anonymous said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 04:53PM

“So very, ver sad. Peace to Vickie and all those who loved him.
Gabriel Donohue”

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53. Annika V. said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 06:50PM

“I only met George last month during the Singer Songwriter Cape May Festival but he made me feel like I knew him forever. What a warm, gracious, funny, engaging man, and one hell of an amazing musician. You'll be missed George!”

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54. Craig Schoedler said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:30PM

“I'll never forget my first show in Atlantic City. I was very young and very nervous. As soon as the curtain opened I had to duck, because George had thrown a rubber chicken over my head, --totally loosened me up for the rest of the show. I also remember being so amazed at his talent and dedication to music. George was like an older "musical brother" to me. I will honor him by bringing dedication and laughter to every musical experience--just as he did.

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55. Dan Fogel said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:48PM

“I'm so sorry to hear about George. Back in the 60's we were the only jazz keyboardists in the area and worked most of the same venues throughout the Atlantic City area. Places like the Jockey Club,Copper Bay Saloon,
Arthurs,Chicago Pizza,places that played jazz open on the streets of Atlantic City that were forced to close when casinos arrived. Yes George and I literally grew up together shareing and exchanging the same musical intrests even the same girlfriend at one time.I will truely miss you brother and musical comrade.ale' vua >more stories on AC clubs in 60's> at : danfogel.org- { click Press}”

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56. Carole Runo said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 07:53PM

“When we met George, so many years ago at the Merion, Cape May came alive for us. When Mr. Runo passed away, George's music permeated the entire room during the service. Oh, how we loved him...........”

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57. Carol Anne Mc Guinn said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 08:20PM

“Vicky,
I am sorry for your loss.
I am an old friend of your brother.
Blessings,
Carol Anne”

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58. Cinematic Moments Video said... on Apr 13, 2012 at 09:00PM

“This is such a loss for area jazz fans in South Jersey. As a regular member of the Somers Point Jazz Society, I had the pleasure of hearing George play many times. My deepest sympathy goes out to family and friends of George, and even just as as an admirer of his music, I feel the loss as well.
Marie-Cinematic Moments Video, EHT”

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59. David Kane said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 12:03AM

“I'm shocked to hear this news. George was both a friend and an inspiration to me and although I didn't see much of him over the years, it was always a happy occasion to both hear him play and bask in his warm friendship. RIP George!”

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60. Mike Kehr said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 12:18AM

“A sad time for all.... I feel very privileged to have meet
George back in 1982. He was a very special kind and giving person and to know him he was just George. His talent was obvious but how he touched everyone around him was just amazing! I had the opportunity to be a part in one is his earlier recordings. I still remember those incredible times!
George I will miss you brother ..
mk”

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61. Michael Spina said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 05:50AM

“Wow! I knew George through my friends George Genna, Paul Jost, and Jay Bethel. George inspired all of us. He will be sadly missed but on the bright side, he'll now be playing with all the greats he admired who have also crossed over to the other side. Carry on!”

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62. Scott F said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 07:53AM

“Very sad, he will be truly missed by many...George was a good friend, great musician and had a wonderful personality. It's hard to believe the world will not see him again...”

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63. Anonymous said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 08:00AM

“The world has lost a wonderful soul. I met George thur my sister who was a good friend of George's. We were looking forword to retiring and going every thurs nite to listen to him play at the Merion. He was loved and admired by hundreds of people. He will be deeply missed.”

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64. Ed Shea said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 08:38AM

“George was a beautiful spirit ,the only thing better than his playing was his beautiful heart.”

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65. Keith Russo said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 09:04AM

“I cried for this man. He wasn't just a monster musician, ...... he was just as huge as a humanitarian, .... as a friend.”

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66. wendy redelico said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 09:17AM

“As soon as my husband and I walked into the Merion, George played my three favorite songs....he called us his neighbors since we lived right next door. We spend many New Year's Eve's with him and went to NYC twice
to see him perform with Paula West....he was so thrilled that we came.
I am not a musician but when George played, you knew he was special..
his music just touched me so deeply that it took me away to a more beautiful place. We considered him a wonderful friend and became close to him over the years and many conversations. He always had such nice things to say about us and he knew we loved him.
Our thoughts and prayers go to Vicki and his family who will miss him more
than all of us.....I wish he could have stayed longer....Cape May will never be the same for us. He was such a wonderful human being, his legacy will go on forever....he certainly never wasted a day he was given, I just wish he had been given more....thank you for the music George...xxoo”

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67. Jim Boney said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 09:35AM

“I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the loss of my old friend and fellow musician, the incomparable George Mesterhazy. I remember him as a teenager sitting in with me on flute at Al Shore's lounge in Atlantic City. He was a musical genius with the ability to play any instrument that he picked up. In the 70's he played piano in my band at Zaberer's. Anyone hearing him knew he was a genius and destined for greatness.
George, you were loved by so many for reasons beyond your musical ability and will be greatly missed and never forgotten.”

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68. Marci Geller said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 10:06AM

“I had the extreme honor and pleasure of meeting George just a few weeks ago at the Merion Inn when I showcased for the Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival. Meeting him and making music for and with him was hands down the highlight of the entire conference for me. I went home so excited telling my husband I met him and what an amazing, talented, generous kind soul he was. George wanted me to come back to Cape May to record-he said "I want to do an entire album with you" and we talked for a really long time. He just "got it" instantly and made feel not only welcome, but special and appreciated.

I am just absolutely devastated to hear of his passing. The world needs more men like George...it was certainly a better place because of him. I feel his loss and am said that I can't be there to celebrate with you all on Sunday. Sending love to his lovely, sweet partner Vicki. My heart goes out to you.”

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69. Deb said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 01:07PM

“I am so heartbroken over this great loss. George had a passion for music, and such a giving spirit beyond almost any musician I've ever known. Knowing that he is not on this earth makes it a less friendly place to be.

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70. Deb said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 01:07PM

“I am so heartbroken over this great loss. George had a passion for music, and such a giving spirit beyond almost any musician I've ever known. Knowing that he is not on this earth makes it a less friendly place to be.

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71. Tom & Sandy said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 03:57PM

“Tom & Sandy , We knew George for a number of years and would always stop by to see him when we were in Cape May. Had lots of laughs ! I worked as a sound engineer and producer with Les Paul in New York at the Iridium . Numerous times George would sub for John Colianni, and George always did a great job. He was very generous to other musicians, and would ask my wife Sandy to sit in with him and sing. We are saddened to hear about his loss. And send our blessings Vicki and Family. We have lost a great musician and a beautiful man.”

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72. Tom lynch said... on Apr 14, 2012 at 06:13PM

“You came a long way from 4th Street Opera House and Montgomery ave.
What a blessing to us all!”

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73. Dena DeRose said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 04:10AM

“This is the saddest news...George was one of those special musicians that you run across very rarely. His sensitivity and knowledge of the lyric, from a singers point of view, was the key to his beautiful accompaniments. Shirley Horn knew that! By being chosen as her accompanist, he told me he was just thrilled and scared at the same time...
I was looking forward to working with him at the Blue Note on Monday, May 21st for Mark Murphy's 80th Birthday Celebration along with 4 or 5 other vocalists, as George was going to be the musical director for the evening.
He will be so very missed in the jazz world!!

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74. Dena DeRose said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 04:10AM

“This is the saddest news...George was one of those special musicians that you run across very rarely. His sensitivity and knowledge of the lyric, from a singers point of view, was the key to his beautiful accompaniments. Shirley Horn knew that! By being chosen as her accompanist, he told me he was just thrilled and scared at the same time...
I was looking forward to working with him at the Blue Note on Monday, May 21st for Mark Murphy's 80th Birthday Celebration along with 4 or 5 other vocalists, as George was going to be the musical director for the evening.
He will be so very missed in the jazz world!!

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75. Betsy & Peter said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:11PM

“Vicki, we are so very sad at the news of Geroge's death. We are thinking of you and sorry we are not there with you to celebrate his life. We love you. George will be sorely missed in many areas. We are playing his CDs today.”

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76. Russ Kassoff said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 12:36PM

“George was an incredible musician. The essence of his playing provided magic in the group, under the singer, and in the room wherever he played. He was truly a very special man and I was privileged not only to know him, to hear him, to play with and for his colleagues, and to have him as a friend and fan attending many of my gigs small band to big band. This is an incredible loss to the collective soul of the world's jazz. All of my world is in shock and thoughts and prayers to Vicki and all the family. More proof that only the good die young. Peace to all.”

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77. Scott Black said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 04:29PM

“George and I went back to the early 1970's. He would show up and sit in with my fathers group at the Erin Bar on Arkansas Ave. When I heard him on piano, I knew he was a genius. Before the casinos sucked the life out of the local musical scene, George and I played together often. And then stay awake until 7 or 8am, just talking music, telling horrible jokes, making up bad puns and laughing till tears would flow. I remember a 3 day jam session benefit that was held for saxophone legend, Gene Quill, who was in bad shape after a severe beating. We played almost non-stop with all of great local players who came, as well as Phil Woods and several other jazz giants who stopped in. Many of the out-of-town boys didn't know George back then, we were in our early 20's..heheh! But they learned fast that he was a musician's musician. He had ears that never failed him, but moreso...he had taste. You can be taught music, but taste defines who you are. George was a legend, no less.”

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78. Rich Lasner said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 04:56PM

“George, his brother Louie, drummer Paul Jau and I were in the Fang Bang Blues Band together in 1969, when I was 13 years old. We played at the Electric Funky at Virginia Ave. near the boardwalk that summer. Clearly a formidable musical force even then whether he was playing guitar or keyboards, you knew you were in the presence of a great spirit and huge musical talent. When we reconnected last year after many decades apart, finding that the sometimes crazy youthful energy that made him a prankster in his teens (I once found my amp in front of the house in pieces, having been thrown from the 2nd floor by George because I complained he was using it more than I was) had been channeled into a giving and generous spirit that endeared him to all who knew him, I was deeply moved. Many of the great ones leave us too early in the journey, but we are all made bigger by having been in their presence while they were here.”

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79. David said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 04:59PM

“I heard George play with Paula West out here in San Francisco. He was an incredibly gifted pianist and arranger, who played with soul, emotion, technique and ease. We'll miss you, George.”

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80. Jackie Y. said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 05:17PM

“So sorry to hear this news. George and Vicki would come to A Ca Mia Ristorante for lunch and it was always so see them both. George you always treated me with kindness and i appreciated that. My prayers go out to all your family and friends. Well George, God needed someone to play the piano for some very important people in "Heaven" and he only wanted the best! Rest In Peace”

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81. Charlie Warwick said... on Apr 15, 2012 at 08:45PM

“Kath and I met You at the Merion in 2005....me .as a professional and a Piano Tuner, you enjoyed showing off that gorgeous Steinway B and you and Kath talked about the days at Polygram.......we came back last year and you asked me to play ...... I chose Thad Jones' A Child is Born........you were so sweet and encouraging even though you could wipe me up with your creative Beauty...........What'll we we all do without you now?........I mean without such a generous spirit........You are now in our prayers and memories...........Vickie......please know how much we grieve for your loss.......God Bless you George.........please help that heavenly choir to get some soul;!.........Love You”

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82. Frankie Randall said... on Apr 16, 2012 at 12:31PM

“I just learned that George Mestertazy passed away. What a shock. He worked with me many times and was one of the most musical piano players I ever heard. He was a highly respected arranger and musician. It is indeed sad news.

I met George in 1982 when I was the performing at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. We became great friends and had deep mutual respect for one another. When I became the entertainment director at the Golden Nugget, in addition to George performing with me on many occasions, he became pianist/arranger for Billy Daniels, who was a regular at the Nugget.

In the late 1990’s, I returned to Atlantic City where I performed in the Superstar Theater at Resort's International. I hired George to arrange and perform for me as I admired him as one of the most creative and talented musicians I have ever met in my career. He was an all around “Swell Guy” who will be greatly missed by his friends, family and all his avid fans in the music world.

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83. Catherine Dupuis said... on Apr 18, 2012 at 04:51PM

“Vicki, my thots and prayers are with you and your and George's families. I just saw and heard George with Mark Murphy at Birdland - George's ears as keen and sharp as ever, his touch so beautifully clear and sensitive. Such a devastating mystery to lose him too soon. But we know he is singing with joy now. Love.”

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84. johnny carrasco said... on Apr 19, 2012 at 01:27AM

“I lived and worked as a guitarist in south Jersey for 15 years and I had the honor of playing with George. Whenever he I seen him he would light up the room, make us laugh. I moved back to phoenix a few years ago and i really miss all my Jersey friends. About 3 weeks ago I was giging with Papa John Defrancesco and all we talked about was George. Papa John called me last Monday and told me the sad news. I will miss you my friend.”

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85. Heshy R said... on Apr 20, 2012 at 09:11AM

“I met George briefly when I performed at the Merion Inn at Singer-Songwriter Cape May last month. He had such a generous spirit and was an absolute pleasure to work with. I feel privileged to having known him, even for such a short period of time. May his memory be blessed.”

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86. Tim Allen said... on Apr 22, 2012 at 08:09PM

“George was a person who was truly blessed by God!!!
I just found out a couple of days ago and I am still
in shock. My tears are for not ony George but also for
the unfortunate ones who never got the chance to meet this
wonderful soul.”

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87. APP said... on Apr 24, 2012 at 02:30PM

“I was blessed to have shared music with this musical Angel many times. Those times were both a gift and a vocal lesson for me. George came to my rescue both in music and friendship. When it is my time, my richest musical memories will be those that have been shared with George Mesterhazy. Working with him was not just a fun gig but a vocal lesson as well..
I will always hear George's version, when singing certain songs. For that, I am ever grateful.”

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88. Michael O'Driscoll said... on Apr 25, 2012 at 11:55AM

“I met this gentleman once, when my wife and I stopped into a restaurant in Cape May where he was playing. He was taking requests, and in a way to impress my wife, I asked him to play our wedding song, "All The Way". He replied: "Not only will I play it for her, but I will play it just like Bill Miller did on the Sinatra recording." We went on to talk about his time with Shirley Horn and her exquisite album "Here's To Life". He said his favorite song on the album was "Where Do You Start?" and he immediately began to play it. I felt my eyes filling up (just as they are now) as I soaked in the beauty of this man and the heavenly music that was emanating from his earthly fingers. After the gig he joined us, and we talked about musicians we knew, singers and pianos. A warmer, unassuming, gifted human being you could not find. I was deeply touched by our meeting and I have never forgotten him. I am shocked and saddened at this tragic news. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends”

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89. Claire Savarese said... on Apr 28, 2012 at 01:29PM

“My father, Frank Savarese is a bass player who became close to George back when AC first opened the casinos. George was a superb, nuanced player and a beloved family friend. Joyfully, his music will never be gone. Sadly, he will long be missed by so many.”

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90. Tom and Marie Stemmle said... on May 11, 2012 at 01:08PM

“We are very saddened. George was a "must-see" for us every summer at the Merion Inn. One of our joys was to sit at the end of the bar and listen to his great interpretations of the American Songbook. We got to know him well and we always commented on how nice he was! He knew almost any song we might request...I hold it as an honor that I was able to "stump" him on a request four times! I should qualify that and add that it was four times in eleven years!! We saw him at other venues, too, with Paula West. At one such event he came to the stage by way of the audience. When he saw us (we had aisle seats) he actually stopped and hugged us both saying how delighted he was that we had come to see the show! What a sweet and delightful man he was! I might add, I truly believe he ranks very high among THE best of piano players of all time!

We send our sincere condolences to Vicky Watson and his family. We will miss him deeply.”

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91. Bruce Campbell said... on May 19, 2012 at 02:27PM

“I am inexpressibly sad to hear this news through my friends at the Chalfonte, where I've been going for 5 decades. Every year a highlight for me was seeing George. His humor and good will and music filled my soul with joy so many times, He gave so much to us all and had so much to give. He is a continuing source of inspiration, musically and also in terms of how to live and love life and others.”

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92. Corey Allen said... on May 21, 2012 at 04:24PM

“I am deeply saddened to hear of George's passing. What a loss for jazz.”

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93. Mary Anne said... on May 29, 2012 at 01:31PM

“I had the privilege to write with George many years ago. He was so pleased with "We'll Leave You Laughing" and boy oh boy did we laugh! I will miss your gentle spirit and love of the ridiculous, George! Heartfelt sympathy to the family.”

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94. D & V Fanning said... on Jun 1, 2012 at 01:37AM

“we were so saddened to learn of the passing of George; a beautiful, natural talent...no one loved music or enjoyed people more....he was gifted and had no ego - all who had the pleasure of hearing his music, and getting to know him, were truly blessed. He had a phenomenal memory, not only with music, but for people and the music they requested...the earth has been silenced profoundly by his loss but the heavens, the heavens and the angels are singing and dancing, and hugging to a genle man tickling the keys of his piano and smiling, that embracing smile...miss you, George....rest in Peace and when we meet again, play 'our song' ...you will remember the one!!! To Vickie, your family & friends, we are so sorry....”

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95. Steve Gilmore said... on Aug 1, 2012 at 12:05AM

“I live in Florida now and just learned of George's passing. I was honored to have been the bassist with George on occasions to numerous to count. He was a great pianist, composer, and arranger but more than that he was one of the most gracious and warmest human beings on the planet. There was nothing that he wouldn't do for you. My heart goes out to Vickie and George's family.”

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96. Anonymous said... on Aug 19, 2012 at 07:56PM

“I worked with George when we were at Tropicana in AC. I was a waitress and he and his musicians played right in the restaurant. He was the greatest! He always said his favorite song was "I remember April". I wonder if anyone played it for him at his funeral or memorial. Its a shock and a tremendous loss!”

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97. Maria Boisseau said... on Apr 4, 2013 at 07:44AM

“I just found out! I have lived in so. florida for 16 years. I am planning a honeymoon in Atlantic City and thought Wow it would be great to see George! I am crushed. I met George in my early 20s and not only was he a truly gifted musician, he was a wonderfully fun-loving and warm soul. We would hang out with the casino lounge musicans after everyone played having breakfast and cocktails in the wee hours. I could not count the number of times he made me laugh until I cried. He was a lovely person with and enormous heart.
An incredible loss to the human community. I am deeply saddened and extend my belated condolences to his family.”

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98. Bill Messerschmidt said... on Nov 26, 2013 at 03:04PM

“The first time I met George, his group, 4th Street Opera House, and mine, Liberation, played opposite each other on the Cape May/Lewes Ferry for a party. About a year later, I had been studying jazz guitar and had the privilege of jamming with him at Arthur's in Atlantic City, where his trio had a gig and he played organ. Up until then, I had never played so well, but with George, the music flowed out of me effortlessly. A real inspiration!”

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99. Margaret Torrise said... on Oct 29, 2014 at 10:20PM

“I first met George on my Honeymoon at the Merion Inn in Cape May, NJ. George played for us until the wee, wee hours. Chatting with George, Cody and Eric...I can still hear him play like it was yesterday. He truly made our honeymoon special. We returned for our first and second anniversaries. I will never forget our time with George...will never forget his warm smile and warm heart....”

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