Dale Kelley Fitzgerald, who co-founded New York’s prestigious Jazz Gallery in 1995 and was its Executive Director until 2009, died on March 20 at Calvary Hospital in Bronx, N.Y., after a long struggle with cancer. He was 72.
Writer Ted Panken described Dale accurately in an obituary distributed by Fitzgerald’s family:
“A strapping man with a well-trimmed goatee, Mr. Fitzgerald possessed an impeccably cool demeanor, a fiery spirit, ample amounts of personal charisma, and a pedagogical bent that emerged during pre-concert introductions that he delivered in an authoritatively resounding baritone voice.”
(That full obit, which is worth reading, can be found at the end of this post.)
I’ll write at greater length about Dale, probably in connection with what promises to be a large and moving memorial later this Spring at the Jazz Gallery. (Stay tuned: For now, in lieu of flowers or other gifts in the wake of Dale Fitzgerald’s passing, his family is asking that donations be made to his son Gabriel’s education fund, HERE.)
So I’ll just speak a bit from my heart and my archives here, with more to come.
Dale was a major force and influence in my career, on matters both very large and even very tiny. His work transformed the environment for New York City jazz during a formative period in my own jazz life, and a transitional moment in New York’s scene. During my first trip to Cuba, in the late 1990s, Dale was not only my man on the ground, but he managed to change that place a bit, too. Dale hipped me to what was what in Havana, and he ended up getting me to write the liner notes for Roy Hargrove’s Grammy-winning “Habana” album. Dale was a gentleman and a scholar, a cool cat of a type they don’t really issue anymore. So he taught me important lessons in life. Plus, he was a true basketball head. He loved a lot of things, including people who were for real. And I loved him. Continue Reading