Robert R. Acri, 95, of Wilmette, IL passed away Thursday, July 25, 2013 at Evanston Hospital Evanston, IL. Private burial services will be held at Memorial Park Skokie, IL. There will be a public wake held 3pm-9pm Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at the Wm. H. Scott Funeral Home Wilmette, IL. Memorials may be made to North Shore University Health Systems Hospice; 4901 Searle Pkwy Skokie, IL 60076.
Bob Acri has been recognized as one of the most versatile and talented pianists in America. At the young age of 17, he was hired to be the staff pianist with the NBC orchestra, one of Chicago's most prestigious jobs at the time. There for nearly 20 years, he played for nationally-known artists, talk show hosts, and entertainers including Dave Garroway, Club 60, and Mike Douglas. He played with big band giant Harry James at a time when Buddy Rich was the drummer. Bob also toured as a member of Woody Herman's Third Herd. Bob was frequently sought after to accompany countless star vocalists including Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Streisand, and Lena Horne. A classically trained musician, Bob composed and orchestrated music of various musical forms utilizing the full spectrum of instruments. A versatile writer, Bob was a finalist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Classical Music Competition and also had a jazz composition featured in Down Beat magazine. At age 85, he collaborated with jazz titans Frank West, George Mraz, Lou Soloff, and Eddie Thigpen to cut a CD consisting mainly of Bob's original compositions. His piece entitled 'Sleep Away' was selected by Microsoft to be an audio sample contained in the release of Windows 7. Throughout a career that lasted eight decades, Bob brought music to Chicago's vast list of theaters, clubs, hotels, and just about every place with a piano. Bob is survived by Mary, his wife of 58 years, his sons Bob (Patty) and Jim (Amy), and seven grandchildren (Emily, Madeline, Carolyn, Bobby, Ryan, Charlie, and Megan).