Around this time last year, he wrote a brief letter on his website talking about his retirement from touring. He was known as a prolific traveler and the move to retire from touring must have hurt him. Here is the opening to the letter dated December 20, 2011:
I celebrated my 91st birthday just two weeks ago today. As Eubie Blake remarked on his 100th birthday, "If I'd known I was gonna live this long I would have taken better care of myself". Although I have retired from touring, I'm still at the piano ever day and am thinking about doing another piano album of wonderful old tunes that most people have forgotten. It seems I'm about the only one left who still remembers them.
I am so grateful to all of you who have followed my music through the years and surprised and happy when young listeners tell me they have discovered and like my music. I hope this will lead them to explore more of the great jazz legacy.
Iola joins me in sending your way a warm wish for HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a blessed Christmas.
I'm sure he continued playing every day until his death. Maybe we'll get that solo album, but in the meantime we can listen to the fabulous music he's given us over the decades.
I think his tribute song to Audrey Hepburn is fitting to post today:
He did things in his own sweet way.