I have turned/tuned my ears again to Phil Schaap’s “Bird Flight,” the radio program committed to the informed listening of music innovator Charlie Parker. Recently, the jazz historian dedicated his morning show on WKCR-FM to Dean Benedetti’s late 1940s field recordings of “Yard Bird.”
In 1949, Benedetti began to experience the first symptoms of myasthenia gravis, a rare muscle disease, which soon affected his playing. In 1953, his parents returned with Dean to Torre del Lago in attempts at various cures. In Italy, the ailing Benedetti continued with music, writing arrangements for such artists as the great Neapolitan musician Renato Carosone, a working relationship we know very little about. On January 20, 1957, Dean Benedetti died at age 34.
This June, Torre del Lago will sponsor the tenth annual “Dean Benedetti Jazz Festival” in honor of this Italian-American musician, musicologist, discographer, and jazz ethnographer, who the Jazz Institute of Chicago has proclaimed a “true jazz hero.”