David Diamond

Living with David Diamond

Noal Cohen is a musician, jazz historian, and record collector living in Montclair, New Jersey. A retired chemist, he co-authored "Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce" with Michael Fitzgerald.  He is David Diamond's nephew and offers a unique perspective on what it was like living with the acclaimed American composer.  I'm so pleased that he agreed to this exclusive online interview.  ~ Brenda Tremblay

The many facets of David Diamond

This morning I sat down to talk with Peter Elliot, a friend and former neighbor of the late composer David Diamond.  At Jines on Park Avenue (with the fabulous mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe eating breakfast only a few tables away!) Peter pulled out a white plastic bag stuffed with treasures: a whimsical letter from David to his kid brother (see picture below), the first Diamond LP he owned, and a fistful of old photos of the composer spending time with the Elliot family on Edgerton Street.

Clues to a life

Greenwood Books on East Avenue (near the RPO Box office) is slowly selling off about eight thousand books formerly owned by the late composer David Diamond. The books, mostly about music, are on a shelf near the entrance, facing the door. I’ve bought two so far, and the cool thing about them is that Diamond wrote in his books, reacting to what he was reading.

For example, in The State of Music, critic and composer Virgil Thomson writes about the lifestyles of musicians:


Dust in the wind

Every now and then I think of him.

The last time was Friday on my way to the Plum House, a Japanese restaurant on Monroe Avenue. I swung by his old house, curious to see if the new owners had ripped out the hulking evergreens blocking the front porch, the bay windows, and the lights within.

They hadn’t.

Before he died, composer David Diamond said he wanted his ashes to be spread between the graves of his parents in Mount Hope Cemetery. His long-time friend and former neighbor Sam Elliott did that for him, with some of the ashes. But Sam got an idea. He divided the remaining ashes into thirds and poured them into three 6-inch plastic vials with screw caps.

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