Ithaca, N.Y — Bernie Upson, a beloved jazz musician who delighted Ithaca’s bars and clubs for years, has died.
“He was one of our favorite people and he brought a lot of life and joy into the room with his personality,” said Amelia Sauter, co-owner of Felicia’s Atomic Lounge.
“His music was the icing on the cake.”
Upson played regularly at Felicia’s for the past several years, Sauter said. He led The Bernie Upson trio on upright bass.
“In the beginning, we booked him because of his music, and then we all fell in love with him,” Sauter said. “His popularity has soared in the past couple of years.”
Upson had a significant impact on staff at the Atomic Lounge, “fussing all over them” when he came to play, Sauter said.
“He was one of our favorite musicians to book, kind and sweet,” Sauter said. “He was really one of the sweetest people that I know.”
Upson has played jazz since the late 1950s, performing with the likes of Marvin Gaye, George Benson, Roy Haynes and Quincy Jones, and gracing the stage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, according to a post on the Argos Inn’s website.
Upson was in Hospice Care at the end of his life, sick with a form of liver cancer.
Felicia’s Atomic Lounge will host an jazz event, “Tribute to Bernie Upson,” on Friday, July 18th from 5:30-8:30 p.m.. It is free to attend.