Dimension Studios, Jamaica Plain, MA 1982
Where did it begin? Rocking in my crib to music? The Beatles? My first instrument, a slide trombone?
Answer: all of the above.
At the Tower Hill Elementary in Randolph, I was the only trombone player in the school, so I received private lessons from Dick Rubino. I really enjoyed this immensely as it got me out of class for a while, and I really loved it! I can still smell the odor of that little bottle of slide oil in my 'bone case, and the spit valve on the slide!
In junior high school, I wore braces on my teeth and couldn't blow into the trombone mouthpiece any more. One day I was so frustrated, I actually broke the trombone at the welds, so my ensemble teacher Dave Berry sent me to see the band teacher Ray Pizzi , and was hired on the spot as the new tympani player! Thanks Mr. Pizzi !
From tympani came percussion in the concert band, then on to the drum set. In 1968 I took my first drum lessons in Randolph Center at Steve Stone's school (Music &) and studied with Gerry Shellmer. I had other teachers, Harry Baker, Berklee student now professional drummer Tony Noterfonzo, and when I finally attended Berklee myself, the late great vibist and drummer, Lou Magnano.
I continued developing musical skills in high school under the direction of music teachers Dave Berry, and Hank Wiktorowicz. I graduated with the class of 1973.
In high school, I was asked to join a "show band" named "Kustom Made". We played pop and show tunes, and were the only local band to get hired into the Randolph Holiday Inn's "Bombay Bicycle Club". Bandmates were John Sares, now of California Restaurant fame, Ira Lightman, guitar and bass, Buddy Travers, keyboard and Iris Samoff, vocals. Later, the band kept on with myself, Earl Gingras, Buddy Traves, and Tonimarie Bianco on vocals.
Some wedding orchestras I played in included Herby Rae, Lenny Sudman, Bobby Kovner, Steve King, The Winikers, Mark Elsner, and others. Some popular venues we played in were Lantana, Chateau de Ville, both in Randolph, Ridder Country Club in E. Bridgewater, and many Elks, VFW and other halls in the area. At the time, I was a member of Local 138 Musicians in Brockton, MA. I worked with some great side men like Nuny Fagan, Gordy Bowman, Harry Davis, Sidney Shulman, Danny Karp, Rudy D'Allesandro, Al Anthony, and many others. Swell times those were for a single guy making a few bucks while paying for college.
The summers of 1973-74 were partially spent playing in the pit band of the Orleans Arena Theatre for Betsy Argo. The theatre is currently known as the Academy Playhouse. Trumpeter Ron Brenner set this one up for me through his connections at Boston Conservatory.
The summers of 1975-1976 (Bicentennial year) I was engaged at the former Christopher Ryder House in Chatham, MA. This was a high-end restaurant, and it had an attached Opera House where there were 2 musical theatre productions nightly. Our trio played the dance music before, between and after the shows, while the other trio played the performances. Music director Roy MacArthur kept us busy with his good humor and cigarette smoke 95 nights in a row. This was a great job for a college student making tuition. I worked with some very fine players, Mike Garvan who actually hired me, Ron Ormsby, Joe Coroniti, and Mark Parmet from Rhode Island. Among those in the show cast were Jossie DeGuzman of "West Side Story" and "Guys and Dolls" fame.
From 1980- 1987 I played, recorded and traveled with Jewish group Safam. This was a unique opportunity to have a day job and also be a weekend warrior. Sometimes we drove to New Jersey and other times we fly coast to coast. I got studio experience and went to some great places. The video to the right, Judah Macabbee, was a recording I made in the studio with the band, and here I am playing along with the same recording.
Since those years, I have not played very much. I sang tenor in some choirs, and studied flute for a time. I also play percussion in concert with the choral group, Koleinu, based in Newton, MA at Hebrew College, under the direction of Carol Marton.
My latest venture is Bangin Away Music, a publishing company registered with BMI.