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Bill Rubenstein and I were best friends from about 1978 until his death which, I believe, occurred in September 1982.  While I knew very little about him, I do know this:  Bill lived more in and of the moment than any person I've ever known.  He would never speak of  what he'd done or who he'd known or what famous musicians he might have worked with.  I loved this about him, and it seemed as though our hearts and souls were linked from the very start.

I first heard of Bill when I was 14.  I had gone to NYC to stay with my uncle Charles who had gotten me an audition to play trumpet for the Ted Mack Show.  Late that night, after the audition, around midnight, Charlie and I were having coffee and dessert on the sidewalk of the restaurant Thors off Greenwich Avenue when we heard thunder.  We looked around, and there was this giant racing up the avenue on a motorcycle.  Charles informed me this was Bill Rubenstein-he thought one of the greatest jazz pianists of all times-that virtually every singer wished Bill could be his or her accompanist.

The following summer, I happened to see Bill on TV.  There was this local variety program out of Syracuse--"The Jim Deline Gang" which I would watch because it featured Bobby Doyle who was a consummate jazz pianist from neighboring Auburn.  Apparently, Bill was visiting his home town of Syracuse and was doing a guest spot on

the show.

Anyway, Bill was introduced and had begun playing "Waltz for Debby."  After he'd gotten half way through the piece, he stood up, pulled a tuning hammer out of his back pocket, and began tuning the piano.  With this, the station cut for a commercial break as fast as they could.  When "The Deline Gang" returned, Bill took up where he'd left off, finishing the piece as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  So it wasn't just the piano-playing I loved about Bill.

I know Bill worked at the Duplex around 1958--also that he worked with Kai Winding's 4-trombone band.  Bill didn't tell me this, but I read it in Dave Frishberg's book "My Dearly Departed Past."  Dave had just hit NYC, and Bill had offered Dave these gigs after he'd finished his own tours with them.

I've also heard that Bill serviced and tuned the pianos at "The Village Gate" and that he had worked as intermission pianist at "The Top of the Gate" for an extended period.

The only recordings I've been able to find which feature Bill's playing are the "Music Minus One" series, Carol Sloan's "Out of the Blue," and Chris Connor's "Chris in Person."

Bill loved doing crossword puzzles and committed himself to solving the NY Times crossword every day of his life.

He rode his motorcycle everywhere he went--even after laying his bike down and breaking his leg  during an entanglement with a deer in the middle of the night.

He loved a beautiful young woman named Pat LaMariana.  She was a social worker who had devoted her entire life at that time to fighting for the poor and downtrodden in NYC.  She was the brightest and most articulate human being I've ever met.  She loved jazz and worshipped the ground Bill walked on (as he also loved her).  I last saw her in 1985.  She had wanted me to figure out some way of enshrining Bill's memory and astonishing musical talent.  I tried reestablishing ties with her when I retired in November 2014, however I was unable to contact her.

I regret it has taken me so many years to do this for Bill (and for Pat), but here is Bill's site, at last.  I  hope it will do him justice just as I hope those of you who love music may become acquainted with and learn to love his marvelous musical talent, as I have done. 

Thanks so much, and best wishes.

Vaughn DeForest

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