Dave Frishberg, jazz pianist and prolific songwriter, dies at 88

Dave Frishberg, the distinguished jazz pianist and internationally recognized composer and lyricist, has died. He was 88.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, Frishberg wrote songs for a number of jazz greats and gained a loyal following as a solo performer of his own. He was known for writing songs that were nearly unclassifiable yet highly recognizable.

Frishberg died on Wednesday, Nov. 17, in Portland, Ore. His wife, April Magnusson, confirmed the news to The New York Times the following day.

Frishberg’s songs have been performed by Blossom Dearie, Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Horn, Anita O’Day, Diana Krall, Stacey Kent, John Pizzarelli, Mel Tormé, Bette Midler, Tony Bennett and more.

“Few contemporary writers have produced as many songs that have been embraced by nightclub cognoscenti. In the refinement of his language, he is equalled only by Stephen Sondheim among contemporary American songwriters,” critic Stephen Holden of The New York Times once wrote.

In addition to his jazz classics — including Peel Me a Grape, I’m Hip, You Are There, My Attorney Bernie and Heart’s Desire — Frishberg also reached an even wider audience as a regular musical contributor to ABC’s children’s educational program, Schoolhouse Rock!

As a solo performer, Frishberg released 23 albums and was nominated for four Grammy Awards. He was also active as a studio musician, recording with Ray Linn, Jimmy Rushing, Pee Wee Russell, Ben Webster and more. He appeared on The Tonight Show and CBS Sunday Morning, and he became a familiar performer at festivals, clubs, cabaret stages and concert halls.

Frishberg leaves Magnusson, whom he married in 2000, and his sons.