Upper Moreland Resident Participates in The Gift That Keeps Giving by Entertaining Senior Jazz Aficionado
Although they have performed with such world class entertainers as Diahann Carroll, Liza Minelli, Mel Torme and Anne Hampton Calloway, on Sunday July 22 three very talented musicians performed for local octogenarian Al Rodewalt at his birthday celebration. It was bassist Kevin MacConnell, of Spring City, PA, who initiated a first visit, along with pianist Dean Schneider, of Upper Moreland, PA, and vocalist/drummer Paul Jost of Vineland, NJ. They surprised Rodewalt at his Voorhees, NJ home with an unexpected weekday performance to cheer up their new found friend and committed supporter of live music. Rodewalt was shocked when he opened his door and the three musicians were standing there ready to spend the afternoon and play for him. He said, "I was overwhelmed. It was unbelievable; I've become such a fan of these three guys!"
Rodewalt, who suffers from a cervical spine injury due to a fall four years ago, was so taken with the initial musical gesture that he offered a gift in return. He decided to back the trio in a recording session in his home which coincided with his 85th birthday celebration. Everyone there knew they were blessed to be part of this incredible party, including the musicians. There was not a dry eye in the house! And friends said joyfully, “It was the best party we ever attended!”
The recipient of a Masters degree in piano from Youngstown State University's Dana School of Music and a passionate fan of great jazz, Rodewalt formed an instant bond with these three musicians when he first heard them play at the house of a close friend, Michelle Greenbaum. He then attended their performances at Firecreek Restaurant regularly, while it was open in the Town Center in Voorhees. His daughter, April, would bring Al until it was too difficult for him to go.
And so it was, at this most unique birthday celebration, that Mr. Rodewalt didn’t stop smiling for a minute, except for those times when tears of happiness overwhelmed him.