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

9 comments:

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sorry to hear this. RIP Eric.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tragic news, very sorry to hear this

    ReplyDelete
  5. FOTIS NIKOLAKOPOULOSDecember 26, 2019 at 8:21 PM

    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.

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

    ReplyDelete
  7. So many of my memories with Eric Stern revolve around music. Even before he and Chris moved
    to Chelsea, as kids, I'd spend countless hours at his Long Island home listening to records on his excellent sound system. He introduced me to so many musicians which he'd somehow discovered at the tender age of 15. Invariably, I'd borrow a half dozen, maybe ten pieces
    of vinyl and it was off to the local electronics store to purchase some blank audio cassettes.

    In high school we were both proud members of the HISR (Herricks In-School Radio) DJ staff where we'd spin records to our heart's delight as well as learn to, "talk up" (introduce) songs to a captive audience in the school cafeteria. Then, in our college years we'd spend so many wonderful nights in places like CBGB's, The Bitter End, Kenny's Castaways and The Bottom Line, to name a few. I guess The Blue Note and Irridium were a little pricey for a couple of college students, although we certainly listened to copious amounts of Jazz including Grover Washington Jr., Spyro Gyro, Earl Klughe, Bob James, B.B. King amongst others. Eric introduced me to the phenomenal works of Gil Scott Heron. After that, I was hooked. If Eric Stern suggested a piece of music it was generally a great piece of music and if he said, "I think you might like this," I almost always did.

    On Long Island, we'd go to a bar called, My Father's Place where I had the opportunity to see the great NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet for the first time. Certainly it would not be the last. Phenomenal night. In the Summers, we'd attend The Dr. Pepper concert series on The Pier where we had the opportunity to see acts like The Cure, The Smiths and the legendary guitar stylings of the late Frank Zappa. He even took a job working the door at The Bottom Line while he was studying at NYU. I always thought he did that job not so much for the money, but to be around the musicians. You see, music was his world and Eric Stern, from my recollection loved to live in the moment.

    Eric Stern was truly a generous, caring man with a heart of gold and a brilliant mind.
    Tremendous loss. Condolences to Chris and the entire Stern family.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So many of my memories with Eric Stern revolve around music. Even before he and Chris moved
    to Chelsea, as kids, I'd spend countless hours at his Long Island home listening to records on his excellent sound system. He introduced me to so many musicians which he'd somehow discovered at the tender age of 15. Invariably, I'd borrow a half dozen, maybe ten pieces
    of vinyl and it was off to the local electronics store to purchase some blank audio cassettes.

    In high school we were both proud members of the HISR (Herricks In-School Radio) DJ staff where we'd spin records to our heart's delight as well as learn to, "talk up" (introduce) songs to a captive audience in the school cafeteria. Then, in our college years we'd spend so many wonderful nights in places like CBGB's, The Bitter End, Kenny's Castaways and The Bottom Line, to name a few. I guess The Blue Note and Irridium were a little pricey for a couple of college students, although we certainly listened to copious amounts of Jazz including Grover Washington Jr., Spyro Gyro, Earl Klughe, Bob James, B.B. King amongst others. Eric introduced me to the phenomenal works of Gil Scott Heron. After that, I was hooked. If Eric Stern suggested a piece of music it was generally a great piece of music and if he said, "I think you might like this," I almost always did.

    On Long Island, we'd go to a bar called, My Father's Place where I had the opportunity to see the great NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet for the first time. Certainly it would not be the last. Phenomenal night. In the Summers, we'd attend The Dr. Pepper concert series on The Pier where we had the opportunity to see acts like The Cure, The Smiths and the legendary guitar stylings of the late Frank Zappa. He even took a job working the door at The Bottom Line while he was studying at NYU. I always thought he did that job not so much for the money, but to be around the musicians. You see, music was his world and Eric Stern, from my recollection loved to live in the moment.

    Eric Stern was truly a generous, caring man with a heart of gold and a brilliant mind.
    Tremendous loss. Condolences to Chris and the entire Stern family.

    ReplyDelete

Please note that comments on posts do not appear immediately - unfortunately we must filter for spam and other idiocy.