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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Eric Stern (1965 - 2019)

Eric Stern introducing at Eric's House of Improv
We are sad to report that Eric Stern, 54, a contributor to the blog, passed away earlier this month. Eric had been dealing with serious health issues for a number of years, but did not let it damper his enthusiasm for live (and recorded) music. Over the past year or so, Eric had been organizing "Eric's House of Improv", a concert series in New York City, and just hosted a concert by pianist Satoko Fujii the night that he passed.

Eric was a humanitarian and a lawyer. He and his wife Christina lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. They moved to the city from their hometown in New Hyde Park, Long Island in the 1980s and Eric quickly fell into the downtown music scene. Aside from his great passion for seeing and listening to improvised music, Eric ran a law practice in Hoboken, NJ and performed pro-bono legal work for AIDS victims in NYC. He also helped with rescue animals, often taking in homeless cats and dogs to foster.

Eric's love of music was a driving passion. He often traveled with his friends Bruce Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery and Mike Panico from Relative Pitch Records to festivals in Canada and Europe, and helped with executive production of several of Relative Pitch recordings until Mike's untimely death last year. Following this, he began organizing a music series, welcoming a number of musicians who did not often play in New York, like Simon Nabatov, Urs Leimgruber, Lotte Anker, Frode Gjerstad, and many other, linking them up with New York based musicians like Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver and Brandon Lopez (to just name a few).

To underscore how music shaped Eric's life, he decided to open his law practice in Hoboken, NJ (which is just a short subway ride from where he lived in NYC) because of the legendary record store Pier Platters and of course the vaunted rock club Maxwells, both of which closed in 1995. Maxwells had a brief second, third, and fourth life, but finally closed for good in 2018.

An anecdote that captures his spirit well comes from his wife who said that in the early 90s, while on a trip to Rome, Eric discovered a record store with a stock of hard to find New Zealand vinyl. She writes "while I was checking out a historic site, he went record-shopping and spent more than $500 to build his New Zealand collection. We had no money left for the rest of the trip plus we had to buy an additional large suitcase to get the records home. Typical Eric"

Before he passed away, Eric shared with us his top 10 recordings of the year, which he said was difficult to figure out of the many many many excellent recordings that came out in 2019.

Our condolences to Eric's family and friends, his enthusiasm and genuine love for the music and musicians will be missed.

- Paul Acquaro

7 comments:

Martin Schray said...

This really is the saddest news. R.I.P. Eric.

Stef said...

Very sad news, indeed. Condolences to his wife and family.

Colin Green said...

Eric will be missed.

Tom Burris said...

So sorry to hear this. RIP Eric.

Nick Metzger said...

Tragic news, very sorry to hear this

FOTIS NIKOLAKOPOULOS said...

Deeply sorry about Eric. Geography is still an obstacle for a lot of us, i wish i had met him.Paul's writings prove that he will be remembered for many reasons.

Lee said...

Very sad news. My thoughts go out to his family, and I wish for an easy ascension for Eric.