David L. Abell has the distinction of being the first non-musician selected as our Tribute Honoree. Those aware of even a few of the contributions David has made to the jazz world in particular, and the community in general understand what a privilege it is to honor the contributions of such a unique gentleman.
A native of Los Angeles, David attended Los Angeles High School, graduated from UCLA with a degree in Political Science, married his lovely wife Barbara, and proceeded to pursue his life’s work, which included raising two daughters. For almost fifty years David maintained his legendary piano store on Beverly Boulevard, until semi- retiring in 1999.
L. A. Times music critic, Don Heckman, aptly describes David as, “The music vendor to the stars, and an angel to the community.”
In David L. Abell’s Fine Pianos, which he proudly owned from 1954 to 1999, there is a large, long wall completely covered with an awe-inspiring photo gallery of prominent entertainment celebrities who have purchased pianos from David over the years. There’s Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Andre Previn, George Shearing, Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, Benny Carter, Steven Spielberg, John Williams, just for starters. His honesty, caring, and personalized touch deservedly earned him an enviable and trusted reputation that is difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
The jazz community definitely recognizes David as an angel on assignment. His generosity and compassion are legendary and unequaled. It is doubtful anyone, including David, knows how many hundreds of times he has donated pianos for use at charitable events. Through the years, he has consistently been a dear friend to jazz and the musicians who create this innovative form of music. David and Barbara, familiar faces on the jazz circuit, are out there most nights supporting live jazz, encouraging musicians, and extending a non-judgmental helping hand when needed. The true extent of David’s unobtrusive giving remains unknown, but some think of him as ‘Robin Hood,’ others call him, ‘The Lone Ranger,’ and a few he’s saved from disaster refer to him as ‘Superman’. Life in Los Angeles would be Utopia if all had the heart, mind, soul, and ears of David Abell.
For four years, David served as President of the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. Deeply invested in the education of young jazz musicians, the Bill Green Mentor Scholarship Program was initiated under his leadership. David and Howard Stone founded Friends of Washington Prep, a non-profit organization to aid the performing arts at Washington Preparatory High School. Last year, Washington Prep became a magnet school and named their program, ‘The Barbara & David L. Abell Music Academy at Washington Prep,’ in recognition of the major contributions they have made to this resourceful school.
David’s participation and dedication to the community have received recognition. He was proclaimed an Honorary Member of Professional Musicians Local 47, received the City Scholars Foundation Award, and is a two-time recipient of the Medici Award, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
The activities of David extend far beyond the jazz world, encompassing service to the following impressive list of organizations:
We are sorry to report that David passed away 2-11-06.
Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Jazz Society Advisory board of Radio Station KLON-FM Past President of the Los Angeles Jazz Society Past Board Member Friends of Music at USC Past President of the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra Founder member of the Los Angeles Music Center Past President of the Fine Arts Council of Loyola Marymount University Board Member of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science Past President of the Yamaha International Dealers Association
Board Member Friends of Washington Prep Foundation Advisory Board of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Member of the San Fernando Valley Arts Council Past Advisory Board Member of the Musicians Assistance Program (MAP) Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Advisory Board of the Professional Musicians Foundation Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) Advisory Board of the BEEM Foundation Member of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM)