Joe Muranyi, 84, a clarinetist whose mastery of pre-World War II jazz led to a four-year stint with Louis Armstrong's last band - and to an improbable moment of pop stardom - died April 20 in Manhattan.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Adrienne Fuss.
Mr. Muranyi was among a handful of jazz musicians who began their careers in the 1950s but looked to an earlier era for inspiration. Although he once studied with the forward-thinking pianist and composer Lennie Tristano, he spent most of his career with Dixieland bands, and he was widely regarded as one of the premier clarinetists in that genre.
He also had, to his surprise, a hit record in 1963 when the feel-good instrumental "Washington Square," an unusual blend of Dixieland and folk music recorded by the Village Stompers, an eight-piece ensemble of which he was a member, reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart. The group members went on to release several albums but never had another hit single, and by 1966 they had broken up.
The next year Mr. Muranyi, who had also performed with guitarist Eddie Condon and other exponents of traditional jazz, realized a long-held dream when he became a member of Louis Armstrong's sextet, the All Stars. He remained with the group until Armstrong stopped touring, shortly before his death in 1971.
Joseph Paul Muranyi was born Jan. 14, 1928, in Martins Ferry, Ohio, to Hungarian-immigrant parents.
He played in an Air Force band but planned on becoming a teacher after his discharge in 1949. He studied at Columbia University and received a master's degree in education there. His love of music won out, however, and by the late 1950s he was a full-time clarinetist. After Armstrong died, Mr. Muranyi led his own small groups and worked with Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, and other bandleaders.
Besides his daughter, Mr. Muranyi, who lived in Manhattan, is survived by his wife, Jorun Hansen; his son, Paul; and two grandchildren.
- N.Y. Times News Service