Joe Albany, a jazz pianist whose involvement with drugs probably kept him from the full recognition his talent deserved, died Tuesday at a hospital in New York City.
He was 63 and was a diabetic who also had liver problems. Cause of his death was cardiac arrest, said his sister, Amy Schulz.
One of the few white musicians to play in mainly black groups in the 1940s, Albany was performing with Benny Carter's orchestra before moving to the be-bop movement and the Charlie Parker group. He spent 25 years in and out of hospitals and jails before recovering from the use of drugs.
A 1981 documentary of his little-known but significant career "Joe Albany . . . a Jazz Life" was shown on public television in 1981. In it Albany reminisced about his work, his colleagues and his problems.
Born in Atlantic City, N.J., Albany studied accordion before moving to Los Angeles in 1941, where he worked with Leo Watson and later with Carter in New York. He recorded with George Auld and Lester Young and performed with Parker and Howard McGhee after World War II. He returned to California and worked at nightclubs and jazz spots in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He also recorded in Europe with Niels Pedersen and Joe Venuti.
In 1982, Elektra/Musician recordings released "Portrait of an Artist," an album of ballads in which he was featured.
In 1981, he had played at Park at the Top in the Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles, where Times jazz critic Leonard Feather said he "brought out the melodic essence" of several selections.
In addition to his sister, he is survived by three children, another sister and his mother.