Home / General / Irving Fields, RIP

Irving Fields, RIP



The wonderful Irving Fields has died at the age of 101. Fields was a brilliant piano player and probably the last living man on the Catskill circuit of the postwar years who in the 1950s combined Jewish music traditions with Latin rhythms. His most famous album is 1959’s Bagels and Bongos, the height of this combination. It’s simply a wonderful album that is a tremendous amount of fun to listen to. Fields, having great success on that album, recorded a bunch of other albums combining European lounge and Latin traditions. I also Champagne and Bongos, which builds on French cafe music. It’s good, but not as good as Bagels. In his late career, he was picked up in the John Zorn circle, which allowed him to record some albums of Zorn’s Tzadik label. His album Oy Vey! Ole! with the percussionist Roberto Rodriguez is absolutely fantastic. His solo album on Tzadik, My Yiddishe Mama, is quite good, although in my view it has the limits of most solo piano albums which is a lack of varied sound. Fields played weekly in an Italian restaurant in New York until just a few months ago. I am disappointed with myself for not finding a reason to go see him play. Here’s a few available clips from his long career. RIP.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Ahenobarbus


    Toots Thielemans died yesterday.

    • advocatethis

      I’m mildly amazed that that news has registered as significant with nobody that I have shared it with.

      • Hells Littlest Angel

        I know. World’s most renowned Belgian jazz harmonica player, and people are like, “huh?”

        • advocatethis

          Somewhere last night, Lee Oskar did a fist pump and said, “yes! Finally I’m number one!”

          Lee plays blues and funk, you say?

          Lee is Danish, not Belgian, you say?

          Close enough for jazz, I say.

  • HonorĂ© De Ballsack

    I only wish someone had brought this up earlier–so I could’ve gone and seen him while he was still alive. Little pieces of NYC are vanishing every day.

    • Same here. I had no idea he was still alive till recently, much less still playing. RIP.

  • Mrs Tilton

    Fields’s oeuvre is, alas, one of the many lacunae in my cultural literacy. But I cannot tell you how delighted I am to learn that albums called Bagels and Bongos and Oy Vey! Ole!, both of which sound far too good to be true, are in fact real things.

    • LFC


  • dporpentine

    Thanks for this. Just listened to Bagels and Bongos. Genuinely fun, warm-hearted music.

It is main inner container footer text