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Ross Tuzo (1928-2018)

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Poised performers: Ross Tuzo and his wife, Gloria (Photograph supplied)

Ross Tuzo, a master carpenter and saxophonist from the heyday of local music, has died. Mr Tuzo was 90.

He was also a prolific letter writer to The Royal Gazette in correspondence that spanned decades.

Topics ranged from politics, particularly the Progressive Labour Party, to racial problems to tributes on the deaths of prominent figures.

Dale Butler, a former PLP minister and music historian, said that Mr Tuzo and his late wife, Gloria, were known as “the lovebirds who loved jazz, and were spotlight dancers known for their grace and poise”.

Mr Tuzo and his wife, who died last year, met as pupils at the Berkeley Institute and married in 1949.

Mr Tuzo’s music career in the 1950s established him as an accomplished saxophone player with the Gilbert Rowling Orchestra, where he played with artists who included his brother, Alan “Hot” Tuzo.

Mr Butler said Mr Tuzo played “during the era of Alexandria Hall and the Colonial Opera House”.

Mr Tuzo looked back on “playing ballads, rumbas, waltzes, congas and the jitterbug, which had everybody on the floor for dance after dance from age 16 to 62” in a letter to The Royal Gazette in October 2017.

His letters often highlighted the era of dance bands and ballroom dancing and he was among the Warwick musicians featured in Mr Butler’s 2007 documentary Profiles in Harmony.

His building and carpentry career began with the art of traditional box-frame windows, which became one of his specialities. Mr Tuzo told the Mid-Ocean News in 1994: “In my family, my father always recommended that all six children get a trade or a profession, so my eldest brother became a blacksmith, the second a plumber, my older sister a seamstress and the other a teacher.

“Both my younger brother and I took up carpentry.”

Mr Tuzo opened his own carpentry business at his home on Cedar Hill, Warwick, in 1962, which he ran for more than 40 years.

His building handiwork has endured in houses all over the island, including his own home.

Band leader: from left, “Brinky” Tucker Sr, Ross Tuzo, Ernest Bukali, Allan “Hot” Tuzo, Gilbert Rowling and Mrs Heachins