FRANK CARUSO:A BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Stuart Rosenberg Frank Caruso, who touched so many with his talent ,warmth ,and love,died unexpectedly of complications during convalescence from surgery on April22,2019. Born in 1948 to Sicilian immigrant parents,his musical gifts were apparent from an early age.He began playing accordion as a small child, and eventually mastered the piano starting in his late teens.He spent his entire life devoted to his family, to music, and to God.In all these things,he brought a profound sense of generosity,curiosity,and enthusiasm that inspired and changed the lives o fhis students,friends,colleagues,and fans.Frank possessed a rare blend of humility,genius,and diligence that yielded the affection and respect of his peers and students and endless accolades from fans and critics.But the most important elements in this rich tapestry of life were God and his family:his wife,Darla,and their 7 children and eight grandchildren remained the center of his life no matter how exalted his musical achievements were.Frank' s musical gifts were in demand from the age of twelve,leading to countless prestigious engagements.As a young man,his playing was often heard in the WhiteHouse by U.S.presidents Nixon and Clinton,foreign heads of state,senators,and other dignitaries during his service in the United States Navy ,where he further developed his excellence in jazz.One of his proudest musical moments at the WhiteHouse was playing for Duke Ellington’s birthday celebration,with Duke and all of the great luminaries of American music listening to him at the piano.It was during his time in the navy that he married Darla,who he'd met while studying Musical Performance at DePaul University,and they soon started a family that continued to grow until there were 7 Caruso children.Following his military service and a short return to Chicago to play jobbing gigs and jingles,Frank became disillusioned with the music business and sought a change to a quieter life.In a bold move,he left Chicago for a remote spot in the Arizona desert,where he and Darla could raise their growing family and where Frank could begin to draw closer to God.His relationship with God blossomed in the desert,and his devotion to religious knowledge and spiritual growth became the central part of his life. Upon his return from the desert,Frank approached his artistry with a deeper sense of mystery and meaning,He recorded a solo album,Freefall,and commenced along and fruitful partnership with Mark Colby who was an enthusiastic participant in Frank's musical adventures.They recorded two albums,Mango Tango and Heart of the City,and were acclaimed internationally.As Frank's recordings became known,so did the quality of his musicianship and his playing came to be sought out by a constantly growing list of music alluminaries,including Luciano Pavarotti,Henry Mancini,Louie Bellson,Herbie Hancock,Billy Joel,Bernadette Peters,Maynard Ferguson,The Count Basie Orchestra,and multiple appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.More recently he recorded Songs from the Kingdom of Jazz with saxophonist Jim Massoth and two esteemed albums with the legendary jazz bassist Eddie Gomez,Analea and Chosen.And always there were gigs and more gigs.As Frank would say,"you have to play a lot of songs to pay for seven kids,"and indeed,there were endless songs and endless gigs and he played every one of them with the same level of integrity and commitment.Frank's unique musical skill and insight made him a superb teacher as well as an accomplished performer.He has enlightened hundreds of students over the years,sharing his insight and wisdom as a professor at the American Conservatory of Music,North Central College,Roosevelt University,and Elmhurst College.He wrote extensively about music,including regular contributions to Chicago Jazz Magazine,Downbeat,and,with Karl Mollison,he wrote Piano Improvisation:A Powerful,Practical System,a method book for learning improvisation.Frank derived great inspiration from his mentors,who became his dear friends.Joe Vito,who he spoke with nearly every day,was an enormous influence,as was Richie Fudoli. Both of them shared more than their musical wisdom with Frank-they delighted in the joy of sharing their gifts with the world.This was the hallmark of Frank Caruso's divine spark. His greatest pleasure was found in three things :his family,his love of God,and illuminating the world with the beauty he found in his music.Not too long ago,Frank’s daughter Deonna,inspired by his life and legacy,lovingly directed a documentary film of his life as a musician,husband,and father and presented it for family,friends,and fans at a packed premiere at a theater near their home.There was not a dry eye in the house.It is said in the bible that there is but one thing that exists both in heaven and on earth and that is music.May Frank bring as much joy to heaven as he brought to us on earth,and may his memory always be a blessing for all whose lives he touched.
Date of Death:
Monday, April 22, 2019
Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 3:00pm to 8:00pm
Monday, April 29, 2019 - 11:00am