WGBH jazz host Eric Jackson recently paid tribute to Steve Schwartz, a long time WGBH jazz announcer and a legend in Boston’s music scene.

Jackson was co-hosting a party in Schwartz’s honor, and those in attendance at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge represented a who’s who of the area’s jazz world. 

Schwartz was 74 years old. He once told me that few things bring people together across race, class and ethnicity as much as jazz. 

And the scene at Ryles Jazz Club last Tuesday night seemed to affirm his belief. An overflow audience of 200 musicians, hosts and fans were there to wish Schwartz goodbye in harmony, song, and verse: jazz enthusiasts, including Jose Masso of WBUR, Yoron Israel, Ron Della Chiesa, WGBH’s Jackson, Marco Werman and Brian O’Donovan and Meredith D’Ambrosio. Then there was Rebecca Parris, whose melodic scatting during the night covered the sounds of both celebration and grieving from the crowd: 

“I’ve been a singer in this town for a very long time. Stephen was one of the most magical DJ’s with some of the most glorious taste in what he would play on the radio. And we miss him. Sincerely miss him.” 

Schwartz is survived by his wife, Constance Bigony, his children, Eric Schwartz, Peter Schwartz, and Jamie Kohn, as well as a step-daughter, Abbie Yablonsky, and seven grandchildren - Anna, Samantha, Desiree, Essie, Benjamin, Joseph and Naomi. 

"Steve was my husband of 21 years. We were together for 28 and he was so much a part of my life and I really, really miss him right now," said Bigony. But I’m loving tonight because the music is so fabulous, and the musicians are coming out and expressing their love for him and it’s lifting me up." 

And Schwartz’s friends in jazz were also represented by pianist Donal Fox, renowned music promoter Fred Taylor, singer Carol Sloane, WGBH jazz announcer Al Davis, former Boston Globe jazz writer Bob Blumenthal, and jazz publicist Sue Auclair. 

Steve Schwartz

“I loved Steve Schwartz," said Auclair. "He was a sweet, sweet man and a brilliant, brilliant programmer of jazz. I miss him a lot.”    

Schwartz’s last day on the air at WGBH on July 6, 2012 was a melancholic moment for both him and many jazz fans, but he treated the long goodbye delicately, with more than three and a half hours of jazz.

“This is my last program for WGBH Radio, starting here in back in 1985 and working my way towards bringing you jazz on a Friday night, and this will wind it up,” he said.