Carl Alexius Dies
J. Alexius, local jazz pianist and first faculty director of
the University of Michigan Jazz Band, died April 18 of complications
following a stroke. He was 74.
Alexius was born in New Orleans and earned his
bachelor's degree at Louisiana State University. He studied
composition in Stuttgart, Germany, on a Fullbright Scholarship,
composing sonatas, string quartets and art songs. After earning
his doctorate in composition from the U-M in 1967, he joined Michigan's
music theory department, where he taught orchestration, jazz arranging
and theory until his retirement in 1984.
At a time when jazz was scorned by many of his
faculty colleagues, Alexius nurtured the student jazz band, imbuing
it with dignity, musicianship and swing.
Alexius was a frequent performer, as soloist
and with the Carl Alexius Trio, in Ann Arbor clubs and hotels. During
the 1990s he was a fixture at the Gandy Dancer restaurant, where
he developed a large and loyal following at the piano bar.
For Alexius, the world was a classroom into
which you were always warmly welcomed. Chatting with him or listening
to his music was an education.