Tenor player, reedman and music educator Ira Schulman 81, a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene from the late 1940s until he moved to California in 1958, died there on July 20 after a series of long illnesses. Schulman played with the big bands of Woody Herman, Charlie Spivak and Boyd Raeburn.
Ira was an early generation bebopper/modernist along with friends and colleagues such as Cy Touff, Hal Russell, Bill Russo, Joe Daley, Kenny Mann, Eddie Baker, Jimmy Gourley and Ira Sullivan.
He worked sessions and gigs all over town, including the original Blue Note, Hi Note, Capitol Show Lounge and some of Joe Segal's earliest sets at Roosevelt College-then returned to play at Jazz Showcase anniversary celebrations.
Born in Chicago, he got a clarinet for his bar mitzvah and never stopped playing or learning-developing a reputation as a near-perfect reader as well as a lyrical improviser with a light Lestorian tone that deepened as the years went on.
He and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1958 where he worked at Warner Bros. -TV recording with Fred Karlin and played with Bob Crosby, Onzy Mathews, and Gerald Wilson.
Ira toured the international circuit with the Don Ellis Jazz Band as a featured soloist, recording on Pacific Jazz and Columbia Records; he also recorded with Dave MacKay on Impulse.
Ira later formed two groups--the Baroque/Jazz Ensemble and
the Four Winds. They performed school concerts incorporating jazz, classical and music history for the Young Audiences Foundation, Performing Tree and Inner City Cultural Awareness Program.
In 1998, Ira won the Professional Artists in Schools award.
He also formed an ensemble called "The Storytellers," blending music, dance and literature, which performed throughout the Los Angeles school district.
Through all those years, Ira taught flute, clarinet and saxophone privately to many students who remember him as a great source of inspiration.
Ira Schulman is survived by three children - Alan, Leslie and Russell,
two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, his sisters, Davida and Diane, and Nora Graham, his devoted partner of 28 years.