R.I.P. Canadian Jazz Icon Vic Vogel

The Montreal figure shared the stage with Celine Dion, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and more
R.I.P. Canadian Jazz Icon Vic Vogel
Photo: Geraldo Pace
Vic Vogel — a Canadian jazz pianist, trombonist, and bandleader who shared stages with Paul Anka, Celine Dion and more — has died. Vogel's family confirmed his passing today in a statement published through his official Facebook page. He was 84.

"Vic passed away on Monday morning, September 16, 2019, at the age of 84 at his Montreal house beside his true love, his Steinway piano since he was 16," the statement read. "The family of the late Vic Vogel is thankful for condolences and ask for privacy at this time. A celebration in his honor will take place shortly."

Montreal mayor Valerie Plante called Vogel "a legend of our city" in a statement today [via the Canadian Press]. "The name Vic Vogel is associated with a musician who succeeded in each of his appearances to share his passion for music, and jazz in particular," she said. "My thoughts go to his family, his loved ones and all the fans mourning his loss."

Born in Montreal in 1935, Vogel began playing piano as a child after his older brother Frank gave up lessons. When it came to jazz, he was a primarily self-taught musician, learning to play trombone and vibraphone by ear ahead of studying formal composition. By age 14, he was performing solo on CBC television broadcasts.

In the early 1950's, Vogel was playing piano regularly in Montreal clubs, saving money to buy his Steinway piano. Towards the end of the decade, he began playing with a number of dance orchestras before conducting his first ensemble at Montreal's Chez Paré club in 1960. In 1968, Vogel founded Le Jazz Big Band, a group that he continued to perform and record with for over 50 years.

Vogel composed, arranged and orchestrated music presented at Expo 1967, Terre Des Hommes 1968, the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1985 Canada Games. His arrangement and compositional work includes more than 2,000 pieces for theatre, television, radio, symphony orchestras and jazz ensembles.

Vogel had also performed at every edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival since the event's inaugural year in 1985, only missing the 2015 edition due to illness.

Vogel has also shared the stage with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Edith Piaf, Michel Legrand, Dizzy Gillespie, Jerry Lewis, Maynard Ferguson, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Chucho Valdès, Phil Wood, Gerry Mulligan and Mel Tormé.

With Le Jazz Big Band, he also toured with Quebec rock outfit Offenbach and appeared on the band's 1980 live album Offenbach en fusion.

In 2007, Vogel was the subject of documentary The Brass Man. In November 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in music from Concordia University.