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Honoring Milwaukee
Musician's and JU Members

Lem Banks Daphne Carney Charles Chandek *
Mike D'Amore Erica Davis Mary Davis
Frank Dominguez (DeMiles) * Nancy Dominguez * Floyd Dorsey *
Don Eliot * Bob Ellicson * Jim Hayden
Chuck Hedges David Hildeman Marge Laflin
Marilyn Larson Augie Ray * Bob Schmidt
Janet Treacy * Paul Vierck Frank Vlasis
Robert Wilson  Francis E. "Pete" Wood Wayne Zimmerman
* Featured Eulogies

Past Eulogies

Well-Traveled Don Eliot Always Returned to ‘Bass’

By CP Christopher Peppas

It is said about bass players that the best ones go completely unnoticed because if they do their job well, the focus is placed elsewhere in the band. This was so very true in the case of the recently departed Don Eliot. His gentle spirit, dry wit and easy-going demeanor may have shed its mortal coil at 83, but he left a legacy as a great musician and an all-around good soul
that will outlive us all.

Don Eliot was a tool designer at Kearney & Trecker, a frequent traveler, an avid reader, and a man of many and varied interests. But most people knew him as a musician. Don began playing music at a very young age getting his education (along with younger brother Dick) from his father who was a professional musician.

He went on to become the musical director of the Leilani Supper Club in Brookfield. In its hey-day, Leilani had a steady stream of national acts whose demands were seen to and taken care of by Don. As a professional musician, he played with some of the giants in the business including Billy Eckstein, Mel Torme, John Gary, and many others. His proficiency on the upright and electric bass was never in question.

Don had a gigantic ice cream sundae of a career. I was only around for the cherry on top of it, but I cherish every moment that I had to make music with him. Every Friday for almost two years at Rocco’s in Bay View and for about five months at the Venice Club in Brookfield, Don would play bass as a member of Generation Gap.

While playing in GenGap, Don would often utter some whip-smart rejoinder that would crack up the sax player, Wayne Zimmermann. Zim would pass the funny remark on to the vocalist (CP) who would then relay it to the audience where it would invariably get a laugh. He would just lie in the weeds until something else would come up and the cycle would repeat all over again.

It took Parkinson’s disease and a variety of other ailments to curtail his public performances, but Don was performing until almost his very last breath. Brother Dick moved back to the Milwaukee area from Las Vegas – where he had performed with members of The Rat Pack and others for over 33 years – to care for their ailing mother, a role he reprised as caretaker to Don for the last seven years.

When Don could no longer drive, Dick would take him to gigs and sit in. When Don could no longer perform on a regular basis, Dick would bring him to gigs and they would perform as “The Elderly Brothers,” a name coined by Zim. Dick even got Don a light-weight electric bass with a short neck to help him play in spite of his Parkinsons. Don was quiet and unassuming while being larger-than-life at the same time. To say that he will be missed does not even approach what his loss means to those who knew him.                               

Two Very Missed Jazz Unlimited Supporters

By CP Christopher Peppas

Printed by request of Mike Mecha

It is not a stretch to say that the vast contribution made by Frank Dominguez, (DeMiles), and Nancy Doninguez to Jazz Unlimited is darn near incalculable.

Frank was truly a local legend on the keys for more than six decades.  He had standing gigs in Milwaukee, Waukesha and across Southeastern Wisconsin.  He came into his own at a time when a "Dominguez" would not be allowed to stay at some of the places he played much less headline at them.

Thus, the surname "DeMiles" was created and a prejudice overcome or, at least, held at bay.  Frank let his talent, which knew no bounds, do the talking.  There was no need to consider his heritage, although he could not have been prouder of his Mexican roots.

Frank was a pioneer when it came to sprinkling in relevant riffs from a variety of other songs.  He would seamlessly weave these into his solos which served to keep the audience, (and many a vocalist), he was performing for on their collective toes.

Frank served many years on the JU Board most recently as Sergeant at Arms.  But it was the annual home concerts, Frank Fests, and the Dueling Pianos Shows, (with Connie Grauer), at the Steinway Gallery, that raised the thousands of dollars for JU"s core mission, the High School Scholarship Fund.

Over the course of several years, Frank mentored and accompanied the winners at a live performance at one of the monthly JU Jazz Jams.

Nancy Dominguez was there every step of the way, acting as his cheerleader, promoter and sometimes roadie.  Together they raised a very musical family, which has tacked on three generations of performers.  Their great-granddaughter won a Vocalist Scholarship from Ju in 2018.

They passed away just a few months apart after moving into Village at Manor Park.

 

AUGIE RAY

A CONSUMMATE Jazz Supporter in Every Sense of the Word

By CP Christopher Peppas

Printed by request of Mike Mecha

Augie Ray fell in love with Jazz in the 1950's and never lost his passion for it until he drew his last breath.

Augie would set out, night after night, to get to as many shows and artists he could in any twenty-four hour period.  He would map out the least circuitous route, (longer than the most direct way), savor a few numbers, snap a few pics and then go on to the next gig.  

Through his 80's, he would use Facebook and other social media outlets to promote the various shows, leaving with the phrase "get here quick".

He was on the JU Board in various capacities for countless years and worked as president and editor of the JU Newsletter for six plus years.  CP began writing articles for the newsletter as some of Augie's passion had rubbed off on him.

             Janet Treacy 

                 Another Wonderful Jazz Enthusiast has Left Us

                 By CP Christopher Peppas

Janet Treacy was a longtime member and lifelong fan of the jazz genre. She could be seen at almost every JU Jazz Jam and many, many shows all over the city from The Grove to the Packing House to Ally's to Yemas to the Italian Community Center... the list is endless.  She was 90.

Janet would winter in Tarpon Springs, Florida, making her way back for the Holidays and then returning for a spring and summer filled with Jazz, Jazz and more Jazz.

                        Bob Ellicson 

                                Drummer Extraordinaire

                                By CP Christopher Peppas

Bob Ellicson was most often seen wearing his signature beret, with a stick bag in tow waiting for his turn to get behind the kit.  He was an outstanding drummer and well-versed in the Blues as well as Jazz, most recently gigging with Fuzzknuckle.  He was 83.

Bob will be remembered by friends as a generous, kind soul, with a great sense of humor, who was genuinely interested in you, and found it his pleasure to put at least one if not many smiles on your face.

To fans he will be remembered as a masterful drummer in many genres including, country, jazz, rock and roll, and the blues.  Thousands of people throughout the years have danced and jammed out to the bands for which he gave their rhythmic background.  Musicians that watched him or played with him knew they could rely on his tight steady beat.

Jazz Great Dorsey now Singin’ with The Angels

By CP Christopher Peppas

If there was a need for a deep, rich baritone voice to be added to The Choir of Angels in Heaven, consider it filled. The entire Jazz Community in our area is mourning the loss of the great Floyd Dorsey who passed away on June 16th at the age of 77. Floyd was a fixture on the local music scene for more than five decades.

Starting with Doo-Wop continuing on to R&B, Soul and Jazz, Floyd left his mark as a member of several different groups as well as a solo performer. He toured the country as a member of The Comic Books and later in Cream DeCocoa.

The Comic Books performed with The Platters, The Coasters and a panoply of other national acts. The inimitable Dorsey himself shared the stage with Al Jarreau, Ike & Tina Turner, Johnny Taylor, Kim Marie and The Everly Brothers.

Floyd performed regularly at The Main Event as a member of Four of a Kind in the 80s and 90s. Most recently, he dazzled his audiences with show tunes like On a Clear Day, to standards like Summertime, Autumn Leaves, and a memorable rendition of Mr. Bojangles.

Just days before this past Christmas, Floyd survived a serious health scare that almost took his life. But he worked his way back and was performing again at recent Jazz Unlimited Jazz Jams. Floyd was the featured artist with Neal Chandek and The Transfer Band at Transfer Pizza just weeks before his passing. Floyd would join lifelong friends and legendary fellow singers Dick Tate and Harvey Scales at Caroline’s most Wednesdays to lend their considerable talents to Harvey Westmoreland’s Knee Deep Blues and R&B jam.

They would take turns taking over the stage to the delight of members of the audience who appreciated a craft honed over so many years. The stage lights there and at many other venues will not burn as bright now that he is gone. An overflow crowd packed Caroline’s on Sunday, July 9th, to remember the man, his family and that deep, rich baritone voice. More than two dozen of his fellow vocalists and musicians took turns paying tribute in the way they know best… singing and playing music, of course. A scholarship specifically for Jazz Vocalists has been started in Floyd’s name at Jazz Unlimited of Greater Milwaukee. Donations are greatly appreciated. 

Neal Charles Chandek

Born June 29, 1955    Passed Away Feb. 15, 2022

Printed by request of Russell Rossetto

Edited tribute below. Visit Feerickfuneralhome.com for the full tribute written by Michael Reyes, friend and fellow musician. A monumental figure in the history of Milwaukee’s jazz scene Neal Chandek was a trumpeter, pianist, arranger, educator, historian and provocative devotee of jazz, blues, Latin jazz, salsa, son, rumba and beyond. Neal’s commitment to music was 24/7. He would practice, teach, study, perform, rehearse and then read and reflect and meditate on music as much as his mind and body would physically allow him. He loved music of the African Diaspora as well as Europe-an Classical Music.

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