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Jim Beard Dies: Steely Dan Keyboardist Was 63

Jim Beard, a pianist, keyboardist, composer, producer and arranger known for his work with Steely Dan as well as jazz musicians Wayne Shorter and John McLaughlin, died March 2 in a New York City hospital from complications of a sudden illness. He was 63.

His death was announced by a representative.

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Born August 26, 1960, in Ridley Park, PA, Beard moved to New York in 1985, launching a career that saw him perform with Steely Dan, McLaughlin, Shorter and Pat Metheny.

A member of Steely Dan since 2008, Beard until had been touring with the band as openers on the Eagles’ Long Goodbye Tour. His last performance with Steely Dan was on January 20 in Phoenix.

Beard also recorded with artists including Dizzy Gillespie, the Brecker Brothers, Dianne Reeves, Meshell Ndegeocello, Toninho Horta and Steve Vai.

Beard has more than 100 published compositions featured on recordings by John McLaughlin, Michael Brecker and many others and in books such as The New Real Book. He appeared with the Metropole Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and performed in major festivals such as JVC, Montreux, Live Under the Sky, North Sea, Montreal and stages in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Blue Note (New York and Japan), CBGB, Montmartre and many more.

His writing has been used in television, movies and radio call signals and his piano playing can be heard in major Hollywood film scores. His work can be heard on Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Blue Note, Verve, Columbia, NBC, ABC, and CBS/Sony.

He produced dozens of recordings for artists such as Mike Stern, Bob Berg, Bill Evans, Eliane Elias and others.

Beard recorded six solo albums, most recently Show of Hands in 2013. His productions and compositions have been nominated for seven Grammy awards, and he won a Grammy in 2007 as a featured performer on Some Skunk Funk by Randy and Michael Brecker.

Beard is survived by his son Victor; daughter Caitlin; mother Sarah, sister Nancy Canale and brother Bill Beard.

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