Monday, April 20, 2020

RIP Giuseppi Logan


[EVG photo from 2013]

Free-jazz legend Giuseppi Logan, a onetime East Village resident and fixture in Tompkins Square Park, died Friday at the Lawrence Nursing Care Center in Far Rockaway. According to his friend Matt Lavelle, Logan died from complications of COVID-19. Logan was 84.

Here's a brief overview via an extensive obituary at WBGO:

Logan leaves behind a small body of recorded work, but his standing in the improvised avant-garde is considerable. He emerged just as free jazz was beginning to crest as a movement, and even amidst a crowded field of iconoclasts, he distinguished himself as an original.

An April 2012 feature in The New York Times delved into Logan's mysterious past, in which he disappeared for decades and spent time in a mental institution.

His long journey eventually brought him back to the East Village, where he was a regular in Tompkins Square Park, playing a setlist heavy on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Matt Lavelle, a trumpeter and clarinetist, helped Logan get back into music with his first proper gig in some 40 years at the Bowery Poetry Club on Feb. 17, 2009, per WBGO's report. They also recorded an album for Tompkins Square Records titled "The Giuseppi Logan Quintet."

“The main thing for me, to be honest, was just to make Giuseppi feel good and to give him some money and some CDs to sell in the park,” Josh Rosenthal, founder of Tompkins Square Records, told WBGO. “He made his first record in 45 years, and that was enough. But the record was surprisingly well received.”


[Photo from 2012 by Bobby Williams]

Logan had hip problems, and sometimes got around with the assistance of a walker. The 2012 piece in the Times provided a snapshot of his typical day:

To get from Tompkins Square Park to his room on East Fourth Street, a trip of just a couple of city blocks on foot, Mr. Logan hobbles west to a northbound bus on Avenue A, then gets on a bus at 14th Street that drives east to Avenue D and then turns south. It can take half an hour. Most days, this is the extent of Mr. Logan’s universe.

Through the years, many East Village residents pitched in to help Logan. For instance, in September 2013, residents collected money for Logan after he was jumped on Ninth Street. A resident also gave Logan a spare tenor saxophone.

In 2014, someone stole his saxophone, which left him with a different instrument...



He said that he played the flute in the 1960s in Paris, but was a little rusty. Neighbors eventually secured him another saxophone.

By the fall of 2014, he was no longer spotted in Tompkins Square Park. Several years went by before we learned that he was living in a senior residence in Far Rockaway.

Logan is served by two sons, Jaee and Joe.

Here's a short film from 1966 by Edward English that shows Logan in Tompkins Square Park...

21 comments:

Giovanni said...

This is so very sad. Feels like just yesterday that he was playing in the park. He was one of the greats and he will be missed.

Even though people are already talking about opening things up, it feels like another wave is about to hit us. One of the StuyTown/PCV building porters has died from Coronavirus and his wife is also a porter there. He worked in 4 Peter Cooper Road near 23rd St. and Asser Levy Place. And Ali Yasin, the pharmacist who owns NYC Pharmacy on 1st Avenue near 13th Street is in the hospital on a ventilator.

Bayou said...

A gutting loss. So sorry to read this.

Anonymous said...

RIP to this wild soul who brought joy to so many!

Anonymous said...

This is very sad news, sorry to hear it.

Jenny Adams said...

One of my all-time favorite East Village neighbors. So many people loved him and that's a life well-lived. RIP sweet man. Thank you for the tunes

Goggla said...

I really miss hearing his music in the park. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" always made me feel good. RIP.

amy said...

@giovanni Do you know how long Ali from NYC Pharmacy has been in hospital? He and his family are so amazing. They have done so much for me and my family over the last 18 years.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to Jaee and Joe who didn't get to spend much time with their dad. I hope they were able to connect more in his later years and take some comfort in knowing he found joy in playing music.

Lola Sáenz said...

RIP sir Logan. And also sorry to hear the news of all the others Giovanni just mentioned. I hope Ali recovers,he is a nice man.

Anonymous said...

@Amy, Ali's been in the hospital for 3 weeks, Day #19 on a ventilator. Saturday they weaned him from the sedation and are taking him off the vent for short periods of time. Today they are switching him to a CPAP, though won't extubate him until he's more awake. He's already responding to questions with hand squeezes. His COVID is gone, bacterial pneumonia infection is gone, heart normal, all signs look hopeful. He just needs to rally his spirit to breathe on his own. #FingersCrossed

Anonymous said...

I miss him in TSP. RIP!

amy said...

@anonymous11:20 Thank you for the update. I have been feeling very worried today. I'm sending love and strength to he and his family! We need Ali!

Anonymous said...

Hi Grieve...thank you for always reporting on stuff like this. I remember him from ages ago when I first moved to the city. And this movie!! Amazing, what a find!!

RIP Mr. Logan 💜 🎷💜

Sending love and good wishes to all my neighbors reading this. Stay strong, ya’ll 🙏❤️

Anonymous said...

Damn. We lost a gentle soul. I walked past him in the park for many years. He was a such a welcome presence in our community. He will be greatly missed. RIP sweet man. :(

JD Foster said...

Rest In Peace , maestro.

Anonymous said...

Godspeed

Elizabeth Herring said...

Giuseppe playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” always signaled that spring was in the air. May his beautiful soul be at rest. #eastvillageicon

Patricia Kennealy Morrison said...

May his journey thrive...

rubygirl said...

I spent many afternoons just sitting with him and sharing cheese sandwiches on bagels. I miss our talks. Rest In Peace

Anonymous said...

So sorry to her it. Been missing him for years and wondering if he was ok. Loved to hear him in the park and he was so warm and kind.

sophocles said...

My favorite old school pharmacy and notary. I guess it is hard to stay safe when you are dispensing medications. I hope Ali makes a full recovery.