William B. Dunham, founder and leader of the Grove Street Stompers, arguably the world’s longest continuously running jazz gig—same band, same club, same night, for over 50 years—died on January 11, 2016.
Led by pianist Dunham, the Stompers, considered one of New York’s top traditional jazz bands, played every Monday night from 1962 at Arthur’s Tavern, 57 Grove Street, where a steady stream of fans, young and old, new and local regulars, and tourists from near and far-flung lands enjoy “sweet bright traditional jazz” (September 30, 2007 New York Times).
Mr. Dunham was first drawn to jazz in boyhood and played with the Crimson Stompers at Harvard as part of the then thriving college jazz band circuit. In addition to his exhilarating kinetic piano playing, Mr. Dunham is best remembered for his sign-offs between sets, including: “Welcome to the thinking man’s alternative to Monday night football,” “Welcome to the west side’s smartest supper club,” and “Have a couple of wild turkeys we’ll be right back.”
Mr. Dunham is survived by his beloved wife of 40 years, Sonya Marie Andersen Dunham, daughter Amy, son-in-law Richard Lyman and three grandchildren.
Arthur’s Tavern, one of the last continuously operating New York City live jazz clubs, opened in a designated historic townhouse in 1937 and nightly hosts outstanding jazz of all types.
In addition to his passion for jazz and following a long career in American and international corporations, including a stint in Libya, Mr. Dunham managed the Barrow Grove real estate company. Simultaneously, he was chairman of the board of The Webster Apartments and a director of the board of The Michael Stern Parkinson’s Research Foundation and was instrumental in its merger with The Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Research Foundation.