Johnny Parker, 78, played trumpet with jazz greats

Johnny Parker, who played trumpet with great jazz artists and who performed regularly at Arthur’s Tavern in the Village for many years, died Tues. March 21 in his apartment at Westbeth at the age of 78.

He had been suffering from emphysema, according to his son, John Parker Lomacang.

Born in Queens, he began playing jazz trumpet at the age of 16 while attending Flushing High School. Encouraged by the bass player George Duvier in the late 1940s he began playing the renowned jazz clubs on W. 52nd St. in Manhattan where Dixieland, swing and bebop combos held forth. It was on 52nd St. that the jazz drummer Zooty Singleton nicknamed Johnny Parker “Tasty” because of his tasty solos.

In the early 1950s, Johnny Parker, who was not related to the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, began traveling with the Rhythm & Blues band of Roosevelt Sykes. Johnny Parker also played with the great trumpet stylist and composer Sy Oliver and the singer Etta Jones. He also stepped in for Cat Anderson, the high-note trumpet virtuoso, in the Duke Ellington band.

He later played with such luminaries as Sonny Rollins and Thelonius Monk. In the 1970s he played with the pianist Brooks Kerr and the drummer Sonny Greer in Manhattan venues including the Algonquin Hotel.

Over the last 20 years, when Parker was living at Westbeth on Bethune St. with his wife, the late writer Leslie Gourse, he became a regular at Arthur’s Tavern on Grove St. and played clubs in Little Italy and in Chelsea.

In addition to John Lomacang, a pastor and gospel musician with a Seventh Day Adventist congregation in West Frankfort, Ill., a daughter, Vivian Lomacang, of Brooklyn survives.

A viewing and funeral service was held Mon. March 27 at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker St. Cremation was at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

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