RON ‘BUBBLES’ SORLEY (pianist) was 90 years of age when he passed away on April 7, 2006 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His playing style was reminiscent of the great Teddy Wilson, and his vast knowledge of standards and obscure songs was staggering. He was also a skilled photographer.
He played with multiple musicians and ensembles over his lifetime, but became best-known when saxophonist Jim Galloway ‘discovered’ him in the early ‘70s when Galloway was looking for a pianist to play with his famed Metro Stompers. That marked the beginning of a personal and professional relationship that would continue until Sorley’s passing.
Sorley was also the pianist with Jim Galloway’s Wee Big Band from the time it came into being and for many years thereafter. He also played with Galloway’s ‘cruising’ band (today known as the ‘Echoes of Swing’) from the first time they began playing annually aboard Holland America cruise ships in the ‘70s until he decided to ‘retire’ from the band nearly 30 cruises later.
Right up until the week of his passing, Sorley still played twice-weekly concerts (regularly with drummer Don Vickery) for the residents and their families in the Veterans’ Wing at Sunnybrook Hospital, where Sorley, a navigator in the Air Force during WWII, had also taken up residence in recent years.
Ron Sorley was the pianist with Jim Galloway’s Wee Big Band when they performed their inaugural concert for the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Series at the Ontario Science Centre on February 12, 1979. He was aso a member of Gordie Evans’ ‘Reeds and Rhythm’ when they were featured in a ‘Sound of Toronto Jazz’ concert on January 12, 1981.