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Joe Muranyi (1928-2012)

Date Posted: 2012-06-03

Clarinetist Joe Muranyi died of congestive heart failure in New York on April 30. Muranyi was best known as the clarinetist in the last version of Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars. Born in Martins Ferry OH of Hungarian ancestry, Muranyi moved to New York to complete his Master's in Education at Columbia, but soon after decided he's rather be a musician. Even though he studied with legendary modern jazz guru Lenny Tristano, he became one of a small group of musicians who went against the tide and took up traditional jazz when everyone else embraced bebop and more modern jazz- this group included Dick Wellstood, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber and few others.

Muranyi labored in relative obscurity until the mid-60s, when Washington Square by the Village Stompers landed at #2 on the Hit Parade- Muranyi played clarinet in the band and stayed with the group until they disbanded. Shortly after that he got the nod from Armstrong to join the All-Stars. His time with the All-Stars was interrupted by frequent downtime due to Satchmo's declining health, and there were relatively few chances to record, but he worked for the greatest jazzman of all time, in a dynasty that included Barney Bigard, Edmond Hall, Joe Darensbourg and Buster Bailey.

Post-Armstrong, Muranyi traveled the world, appearing often in Armstrong tributes as one of the last survivors of the All-Stars. He also spent significant time appearing in Hungary, as one of the few world-class musicians of Hungarian ancestry. Domestically, he spent the last several years appearing with Dave Ostwald's Gully Low Jazz Band. Joe is featured on two Jazzology CDs- JCD-266 with the Orient Dixieland Band of Hungary, and JCD-366 with a hand-picked New Orleans group featuring Duke Heitger.

Joe Muranyi (pronounced MahRainey) carved out a successful career playing what was considered passé when he took it up, and he reached the top of his profession when he had the opportunity to join Louis Armstrong's All-Stars. He is another musician who won't be replaced.

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