Philly jazz great Jimmy Bruno in critical condition after fall

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Jimmy Bruno

In December, Philly jazz great Jimmy Bruno could be heard playing alongside his mentor and fellow guitarist Sonny Troy at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, with the proceeds going toward Jazz Bridge.

Now, Bruno is in critical condition at Abington Hospital, and the same musician-focused nonprofit for which he was raising money is directing fund-raising efforts toward his recovery. Contributions can be made at jazzbridge.org by directing donations to “The Jimmy Fund.”

Bruno suffered a fall last month in the basement studio that his wife, Peg, refers to as his “man cave,” on the eve of his 64th birthday, but he refused to go to the emergency room. “He was adamant and I couldn’t force him, but I kept an eye on him that day,” said Peg, a registered nurse. “I left him downstairs watching TV that night, but the next morning, I heard gurgling sounds from the basement and found him actively having a seizure right in front of me.”

Bruno was rushed to the hospital and has been unconscious since, breathing with the aid of a ventilator. As of late last week, he had opened his eyes but was still not responding to commands.

“It’s been a long, arduous process,” Peg said. “It’s going very slowly, but at least he’s headed in the right direction.”

Jazz Bridge director Suzanne Cloud reached out to Peg as soon as she heard about the accident. “Jazz Bridge is an organization that helps professional jazz and blues musicians in crisis,” Cloud said, “and this kind of thing is definitely a crisis — not just for the musician but for his entire family.”

A second-generation veteran of the Philadelphia jazz scene, Bruno picked up the guitar in emulation of his namesake father. He got his start young, joining legendary drummer Buddy Rich’s band at 19. He was a staple at local clubs for decades, though in recent years he’d turned his attention more to teaching, giving lessons to students around the world via online learning.

“Jimmy is one of the top guitarists on the Philly scene,” said Troy.

“He’s such a great player and a great exponent of the instrument.

“We’re all praying for Jimmy. As soon as he comes around a bit, I’m going to bring the guitar up and see if we can nudge him further along.”