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Carol Whitney Britto (1935-2012)

Alone Together 1987 Alone Together 1987 Town Crier Recordings

Carol Whitney Britto, virtuoso jazz pianist, died March 16, 2012 in New York City. Born in Cleveland, OH in 1935, she is survived by her children Jeff Britto, Karen Carter, and Eric Britto, her sister Jeanne Casey (Larry), her brother Mike Whitney (Rosemary), grandchildren, and loving nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, well-known bass player Bill Britto, and by her sisters Marilyn Whitney and Ilene McCarthy (Larry).

Carol Britto spent twenty years in Toronto before relocating to New York. In New York Carol played all the major clubs - Knickerbocker, Fortune Garden Pavilion, Village Corner, Birdland, Café Gianluca, J's, Zinno, Carnegie Tavern, Hanratty's, the Rainbow Room.

Britto studied with Oscar Peterson. "Oscar taught me how to be a take-charge pianist," she said. Her forceful energetic technique was often compared to his. With her Trio comprised of bassist Bill Britto, David Young or Michel Donato and drummer Don Vickery she was the long-time favorite at the Lyte's jazz room in Toronto's Royal York Hotel. Holding court at Georges Spaghetti House and Bourbon Street in the seventies and eighties. She was organist for the Toronto Blue Jays. She played at colleges and jazz festivals throughout North America. She was chosen to be an exclusive Baldwin Piano artist.

Famous in her own right, both solo and as a leader of her Carol Britto Trio, but perhaps best known as an accompanist par excellence. During her career she accompanied most of the legendary names in jazz, including Chet Baker, Benny Carter, Helen Humes, Joe Williams, Major Holley, Zoot Sims, Phoebe Snow, Joe Venuti, Doc Cheatham, Marvin Stamm, Roy Eldridge, Flip Phillips, Bobby Rosengarden, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Gary Mazzaroppi, Milt Jackson, Lance Hayward, Tootsie Bean, and Michael Moore. She played with Percy Faith and his Orchestra. She toured with the Tommy Dorsey Band.

Trumpet player Marvin Stamm said of her, "If a visiting jazzman wants a powerful yet sensitive musical companion at the piano, nobody in the business can equal her." Tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis called her "Lady Britto, the Countess Basie of the piano." The great jazz violinist Joe Venuti called her simply, "Mother Jazz."

Britto's albums won her a wider audience and acclaim - "Alone Together" with Flip Phillips and Michael Moore, and "Inner Voices" with Michael Moore, both on the Town Crier label.

Carol Britto's daughter Karen plans a memorial website at CarolBritto.com.

Last modified on Saturday, 07 April 2012 08:10
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