Jazz journalist Len Dobbin dies

Len Dobbin, a mainstay of the Montreal jazz scene for more than 50 years, has died.

Writer-broadcaster was pillar of Montreal's jazz scene for past half-century

Len Dobbin, a mainstay of the Montreal jazz scene for more than 50 years, has died. He was 74.

He had been catching two or three shows a night at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and was in his favourite seat at the city's Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill on Wednesday evening waiting for trombone and trumpet player Ray Anderson to perform when he suffered a massive stroke and was taken to hospital.

He died in Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital surrounded by his three daughters, Victoria, Kerry and Nina, and his close friends singer Monique Fauteux and broadcaster and actor Dorothée Berryman.

His two-hour Sunday radio program, Dobbin's Den, was must-listening for Montreal jazz fans. He played old and new albums, as well as rare and unreleased recordings from his personal collection.

An accountant by trade, Dobbin's passion was jazz. He listened to it in Montreal and on trips to New York.

Considered the dean of Canada's jazz writers, he wrote about it for publications including the Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Mirror and Coda magazine.

He hosted the weekly Jazz 96 show on CJFM radio from 1976 to 1994, and returned the next year with Dobbin's Den on CKUT radio.

Dobbin also promoted jazz, taking handsome black-and-white photos that appeared on magazine, CD and record covers in Canada and the United States.

He organized Pepper Adams's farewell concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 1986. The baritone saxophonist's repertoire included a piece titled Dobbin.

"Len dedicated his life to music, jazz and musicians, and his passion was to keep the music going," Upstairs owner Joel Giberovitch told the Gazette.

"Len is absolutely and single-handedly the keeper of the flame in Montreal," pianist Paul Bley told music journalist Juan Rodriguez in a 2005 interview.

Jazz festival co-founder André Ménard said he found it fitting that Dobbin should pass away during the festival, which runs through Friday, and at a jazz club waiting for a performance.

He said the remainder of the festival is dedicated to his memory.

The jazz festival will hold a musical tribute to Dobbin in coming weeks.