Chris Gillespie, pianist extraordinaire who was a mainstay at Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel left us much too soon this past year. Here is a VIDEO interview Jamie and I did with him at the hotel in 2014.
A jazz pianist of unique style who performed regularly at The Carlyle Hotel’s Bemelmans Bar, died on December 15, 2017 in New York City. He was 52. Born in Munich, Germany to a Dutch father and Tanzanian mother, Mr. Gillespie grew up in a foster family that loved music. After displaying a gift for music and vocals as a child, Mr. Gillespie was awarded a full scholarship at age 16 to a music academy for organ and sacred music. His early love of songs from American films and musical theatre inspired him to become a pianist and singer despite his considerable accomplishments at organ. After joining the German Air Force, he began performing in popular restaurants and clubs in Munich to supplement his income. Chasing his love of American music, Mr. Gillespie arrived in New York City in the late 1980s and worked in construction while he found his footing in the New York City musical scene. His freelance work in the New York music community led to a regular spot at The Carlyle in 2002. With influences such as George Gershwin, Bill Evans and Frank Sinatra, Mr. Gillespie’s smooth, expressive voice and fluid piano stylings combined classical riffs with traditional jazz standards and helped coined the term “jazzical.” In addition to his year-round residency at Bemelmans Bar, Mr. Gillespie was a highly sought performer for weddings, tributes and other special events in New York, around the nation and internationally in locations ranging from Europe to Colombia and the Philippines. He was well known in the music world as a composer and performer, entertaining both his regular audience and a wide range of celebrities and dignitaries. Mr. Gillespie was a generous contributor as a performer at school functions and charity fundraisers, as well as a youth educator and choral director. For many years, Mr. Gillespie served as Director of Liturgical Music Education and the Children’s Choir at Our Lady of Good Counsel, and as the Musical Director for the Steuben Day (German-American) Parade. Mr. Gillespie recorded and released several jazz albums, most notably “Chris Gillespie Live at the Carlyle” and “Portraits of Porter,” a 14-song tribute to Cole Porter. Mr. Gillespie was an enthusiastic runner, having completed four consecutive New York City marathons, and was frequently seen jogging near the Reservoir in Central Park. He was also an accomplished tennis player and skier. Mr. Gillespie is survived by his wife and son.
The Chris Gillespie Memorial Fund http://www.singforhope.org/the-chris-gillespie-memorial-fund-at-sing-for-hope/