b. 1922 (Youngstown, OH)
d. January 24, 2004. (Orlando, FL)
Pianist Charles Bateman spent years training to play classical music, but his move into jazz took him into a world of which many of his fans could only dream. In his heyday, he could be found on stage with the likes of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis.
Bateman, who hit the Central Florida jazz scene after retiring and moving from New York City in the early 1990s, died Saturday (January 24, 2004). He was 82.
"I hate to say this, but it's true," said Anita Turner Bateman, his wife of 47 years. "Charlie was a musical genius."
Charles Bateman met Anita, a singer and actress, when the two were preparing for a gig in New York City. By then, he had already hit the big time. He and legendary trumpeter Armstrong were among a group of black jazz musicians who made a historic first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1947.
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Bateman's familiarity with the piano came from a life steeped in music. His mother and father were pianists. She played gospel; he played the blues. They started Bateman's classical piano training at an early age. At 18, he performed as a soloist with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.
Bateman moved to New York before his 20th birthday to study under renowned German pianist Bruno Eisner. He played jazz clubs on the side.
He came to the Orlando area, not for jazz, but for a bridge tournament. He liked the warm weather and the area, Anita said. The couple built a house in Deltona but continued to live and work in New York.
It was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that persuaded him to make a permanent move. He had finished his regular gig in the Trade Center's Vista International Hotel and had gone home. The blast that claimed six lives occurred at 12:18 p.m. the next day.
Damage from the bombing forced the hotel to close, so the Batemans decided it was the right time to move into their Volusia County home. Once there, he recorded three CDs and played regularly with other area musicians.
Bateman was an Army veteran of World War II and earned a third-degree black belt in karate.
--Tammie Wersinger, Orlando Sentinel (http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2004-01-27/news/0401270046_1_charles-bateman-jazz-pianist - obituary)