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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DC Piano Player Harold Kaufman Dies

I knew Harold Kaufman pretty well from when he played at Charlie's Georgetown, which was fairly often. He was good friends with the owners, Bob and Betty Martin — I worked for Betty. I remember him as an often happy, smiling piano player at the club — I didn't know he was also a trained lawyer, and a psychiatrist and college professor.
Harold Kaufman, who was trained as a lawyer, then became a psychiatrist and college professor while moonlighting as a jazz musician and nightclub owner, died March 10 of heart disease at his home in Washington. He was 77.
On the club he owned, Harold's Rogue & Jar:
As he followed his restless mind from one field to another, the enduring constant in Dr. Kaufman's life was always his love of music. He was an accomplished jazz pianist who, during the 1970s, owned Harold's Rogue & Jar Club, which became an intimate gathering spot for the city's jazz lovers in the 1970s.

Throughout the week, such internationally prominent musicians as Tommy Flanagan, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz and Zoot Sims appeared at the Dupont Circle club, which also featured top local talent, including saxophonists Andrew White, Buck Hill and Marshall Keys. On Sunday nights, Dr. Kaufman took over the bandstand, leading his own group.

"He was a real force on the jazz scene in the '70s," said Tommy Cecil, who sometimes played bass with Dr. Kaufman. "It was a real haven for jazz musicians."

After hours, Dr. Kaufman sometimes brought musicians back to his Georgetown home for jam sessions that lasted until dawn.
And the "great characters" Tommy Cecil talked about, who hung around Harold's Rogue & Jar, are the same characters who moved over to Charlie's Georgetown when Harold's closed.
"There was always a circle of great characters as part of that club," recalled Cecil, who played bass with Dr. Kaufman the night the club closed in 1979. "You don't see that kind of environment anymore."

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