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Pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop Passes at 87

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Pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop died this month in Buffalo, New York, at the age of 87.  He is also survived by his brother the legendary jazz drummer Frankie Dunlop.

Dunlop was recently ‘rediscovered’ in his nursing home by photographer Brendan Bannon, who befriended the octogenarian musician and helped him record “Boyd’s Blues”  in 2011. With stories in the New York Times and NPR the word was out about this remarkable pianist, the brother of the legendary drummer Frankie Dunlop, recovering from a near-fatal heart attack and releasing his second recording The Lake Reflections.

For years, Dunlop toiled in Buffalo’s steel mills and rail yards, yet he always found his way back to music. When times were tough he took to the road, crisscrossing the states and playing in any juke joint, gin mill or dive that had a piano. For the first time, at age eighty-five, he stepped into a recording studio in Buffalo, NY with renowned musicians Sabu Adeyola on bass and Virgil Day on drums and finally recorded an album of his own. Boyd’s Blues resulted from a chance encounter between Dunlop and photographer Brendan Bannon. As Bannon explains, “I went to Delaware Nursing Home to speak to a doctor about a photography project. In the chair next to me, just back from a walk, sat Boyd Lee. ‘You here to see someone?’ he asked. ‘I think I’m here to see everyone.’ ‘You a doctor?’ ‘Photographer.’ ‘Yeah? I’m a musician.'”

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