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Who Played With the Salt City 5 and 6?

(1952 - 1969)
The Salt City Five originals: Will Alger -Trombone, Jack Maheu - Clarinet, Don Hunt - Trumpet, Bob Cousins - Drums, Charlie French - Piano
Manager: Arnie Koch
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Trombone/Clarinet/Trumpet/Cornet/Piano
Nick Palumbo, Jim Cunningham, Billy Rubenstein, Bill Bartel,  Kenny Davern, Dick Oakley, Bob Pillsbury, Hans Kuenzel, Jim Beatty, Bill Andrews, Al D’Lano, Eddie Hubbell, Lou DeSantis, Wild Bill Davison, Dave Remington, Jim Butler, Jack Kreisher, Ronnie Champion, Bob D’Imperio, Sam Head, Dick Baars, Bobby Machan, Ricky Nelson, Paul Squire, Dave McKenna, Armand Paradis, John “Punch” Thomas, Mike Longo,
Hank Berger, Danny Stiles, Joe Bataglia, George Brunis, Johnny Windhurst, Bobby Doyle, Mark Lamphier, Chuck Forsythe, Bob Robinson, Dave Stout, Smokey Stover, Gap Mangione, Red Benson, Sal Amico, Dick Hunt, Alfie Jones, Jimmy McPartland, Al Domizio, Bill Spitz, Sonny Kompanek, Bill Spitz Jr., John Uhlrich, Norm Murphy, Sonny White, Van Crowell, Barry Kiener, Dick Ruedebush, Don Ewell, Bruce Fairbanks, Max Hook, Bruce Ahrens, Dodo Marmarosa, Dick Ames, Mimi Osmun, Frank Puzzullo, Claude Hopkins, Vince Falcone, Buddy Detar, Buddy Blacklock, Al Chard, Fred Hickey, John Bunch.,skip parsons.


Drums/Bass
Red Hawley, Frank Frawley, Danny D’Imperio, Lowell Miller, Dick Jones, Barney Mallon, Charlie Cameron, Phil Hogan,Jimmy Young, Tony Leonardi, Pete Buttaro, Al Bruno, Ralph Haupert, Lou Johnston, Chuck Morey, Steve DeSantis, Denny Dale, Tony Brescia, Tom Swisher, Jack Esham, Morey Feld, Bud Coltrane, Dave Mancini , Linc Milliman, Spider Ridgeway, Gordon “Hophead” Johnson, Jack Esham, Eddie DeMatteo, George Reed, Frank Pullara, Ken Fredericks, Steve “Jersey Joe” Alcott, Don Krenke, Terry Forster, Howie Welch, Stu Wheeler, Glen Kimell, Mark Trail, Monte Mountjoy, Gene Mayl, Bill Ermi, John Latham, Bill Goodall, Ed Bockstahler, Dick Dershimer, Bruce Thomas, Danny Vitale, Lenny Seed, Dave Fink, Wally Melnick


Banjo/Acoustic Guitar/Vocalists
Charlie Mussen, Carol Leigh, Marty Grosz, Georgia Brown, Jerry Levine, Eddie Davis, Eddie Morrow, Steve Jordan

130 MUSICIANS + 2 VOCALISTS IN 17 YEARS !

 The Originals

 Will Alger - Trombone -   While at Pulaski Academy in Polaski, N.Y., will played trombone in the band. His father once played the drums with Al Fields Minstrels. After moving to Syracuse, he led his own band at Vocational High playing at the USO. Later, while in the Army, he played in a  band that traveled wherever the Army decided entertainment was needed, from Florida to California and even Alaska. After the Army, he attended Syracuse University. In the late 40's, he joined the Johnny Campbell ten piece show band and was with them for three years. It was while they were playing at Luigi's Club Flamingo in Syracuse that he got to know Jack Maheu and Bob Cousins who came in to listen. He was the first leader of the Salt City Five and ,over the years with the band, became one of the true tailgate stylists in the dixieland jazz field.  Jack Teagarden was his idol. Like Teagarden, Will would often remove the bell of his horn and play St. James Infirmary into a beer glass. Bob Cousin tells how when the band was booked to play the Blue Note in Chicago, the owner had forgotten that he had also booked Teagarden and his band for the two weeks   The good sport that he was, the owner decided to have a Battle of  the Dixieland Bands ! When Will found out he was in shock. "I can't to that.  I can't play on the same stand with That Man ! " Reason prevailed and Will had a wonderful two weeks hanging out with Teagarden and Ray Baduc.

"Will's playing was consistently exciting and highly individual and slavishly devoted to correct ensemble playing", says Bob Cousins. Jack Maheu agrees. "Will was one of the all-time great ensemble players who could lift a band to a degree greater than the sum of its parts no matter how good, or not so good, the other players were. His trombone playing was the bane of other trombone players who tried to challenge him in a cutting contest. If Will was having trouble staying ahead, he could always count on his body english to dispatch even greater flourishes of notes to the rafters humbling even the more formidable contenders. (On rare occassions he would lie on his back and work the slide with his foot.) Like most great artists he was one of a kind." 

In 1957, while playing in Cleveland, Will was felled by what doctors' officiallly called a "spontaneious subarachnoid hemorrhage", or, unofficially, a "blow-out." A blood vessel in his brain had burst and he lay blind and paralyzed in a hospital bed for weeks. Playing the trombone, the doctors said, was not the cause. "It could have happened to a harp player," he was told. He graduallly regained his sight and managed a Buffalo restaurant until 1960 when he rejoined the band.

His closest friend was probably banjo and guitarist player, Charlie Mussen, (they can both be heard on the "Live at the Carriage House" album on the "Music" section of this website.) When Will would pick up Charlie for a "gig", if Charlie's wife answered the door, Will would invaribly ask, "Can Charlie come out to play" ? To Charlie, Will was the complete professional. "When someone asked Will what was the most important things a musician could to do be successful, Will replied, 'know your horn, don't drink on the stand, wear clean, neat clothes and shined shoes and get to the job an hour ahead of time." 

Another close friend and earlier fellow musician, Fred Hickey, said, "If Will was playing trombone, you didn't need a bass player. He played all the right notes."

Will died of respiratory problems at his home in Lockport, N. Y. on  July 7, 1992  at age 66. 

Jack Maheu - Clarinet - Jack Maheu needs no introduction to  traditional jazz fans. They  know him for his many years of performances and recordings as leader of the Salt City 6. He left the band in 1957 to join     Dukes of Diixieland (where he did many of their arrangements). He left the Dukes in '59 and formed  his own band at the Preview Lounge in Chicago playing opposite the George Brunis band. Later, he played with Muggsy Spanier, Art Hodes, Bud Freeman, and Marian McPartland. In 1961, he re-formed the Salt City Six as co-leader with Will Alger. Wild Bill Davison joined this group for a one-year tour in 1962. By 1968, the group had become the house band at a club Jack owned, the Gallery, in Burlington, Vermont.
The early 70's saw a move to Rochester, NY and the re-formation of the Salt City Six with Wild Bill, Marty Grosz, John Ulrich, George Brunis, and George Zack.This band toured and recorded until 1978, when they disbanded and Jack formed a new group, Helium, with Barry Kiener, Dan D'Imperio, and Steve Alcott.
Before moving to New Orleans in 1990, for 5 1/2  years he was in the  house band at Eddie Condon's and was there when it closed in 1985. (Three former Sixers were in the house band when it closed: Jack, Paul Squire, and Danny D'Imperio). While at Condon's, Jack recorded Condon's Hot Lunch with Pee Wee Erwin. After the club closed, he stayed in New York to work and record with Grosz, Dick Wellstood, Mark Shane, and Howard Alden.
1988 saw a move to Marco Island, Florida to help form the Paradise Jazz Band, with which he toured and recorded. In 1989, this group played an impromptu jam session for the newly liberated East Germans coming through the demolished Berlin Wall.
In 1990, Jack moved to New Orleans. He toured for six months with Al Hirt, played engagements at the Fairmont Hotel, various Bourbon Street clubs, and Mississippi River boats.

In New Orleans , Jack became one of the most sought-after musicans in town. His band won the French Quarter  Festival "Battle of the Bands" three years in a row. At Fritzel's Jazz Pub on Bourbon St., he was known as "The General" by  many  of  the City's best players who sat in. Eddie Edwards, drummer and head of the Louis Armstrong Foundation told the Times -Picayune (4/23/94), "Maheu is the best clarinet player in New Orleans. He's a real pro. When Jack talks, other musicians listen. His presence commands the respect of other musicians." 

As for playing the clarinet, Maheu told The Mississippi Rag (05/95), " It is so difficult to play it well. You have to put a lot of years into it. A lot of guys can pick up a saxaphone, a guitar...and in a couple of weeks they can play a job. Clarinet players have become the orphans in the music business - except for New Orleans. It's the only town I've been in where the clarinet players get first calls for the good jobs. Pete Fountain has done great things for this town and the clarinet."

In the same article, Maheu says, "To me, there are only two kinds of jazz - good and bad, whether it's a modern group or a Dixieland group. In Dixieland especially, the ensemble sound is absolutely one of the greatest things in music. Leonard Bernstein was quoted in print saying, "the most exciting sound in music is a good Dixieland band at full tilt." 

The March, 2007 issue of The Clarinet magazine had an article by W. Henry Duckham entitled "Dick Johnson--on the Road Again” stating:  "In addition to Shaw and Goodman, Johnson’s appreciation of clarinet players is all-encompassing. He singles out Harold Wright, Bob Wilber, Eddie Daniels, Buddy DeFranco and lesser-known players like Irving Fazola, Clarence Hutchenrider, Stan Hasselgaard and Jack Maheu.”  

Don Hunt - Trumpet - Don's trumpet skills were crucial in winning the Godfrey Show and on the demo record that won the Jubilee Record contract. He can be heard on the Childs and Persian Terrace tapes. His father played piano, drums, mandolin, and sang. His mother played piano and violin. His only musical training was three years
in high school. He studied radio engineering at Syracuse U. According to Don, "The Five were in Philadelphia when I got word that Marge was pregnant with our first daughter.  We were getting ready to head from the hotel to the gig, and I told the guys, 'Hate to say it, but you've got two weeks to find a trumpet player!' As I recall, Dick Oakley, workin' with the Dixieland Ramblers in Rochester, swapped jobs with me--he wanted to travel and i wanted to be a pappy--and came home and worked for several wonderful years with the Ramblers, and days with a local weekly paper--and after a few years bought the Wolcott Pennysaver." It was Dick Oakley, age 22, who was on the Jubilee album - thanks to the
demo Don was on.

Bob Cousins - Drums - Since leaving the Salt City Five in the late 50"s, Cuz  spent most of his career as one of the most in demand drummers in Chicago. His talent was been called on by a number of jazz artists over the years including: Coleman Hawkins, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Tex Beneke's Big Band, Ralph Marterie, Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Erwin, Marion McPartland, Bucky Pizzerelli, Jimmy McPartland, Art Hodes, Muggsy Spanier, Benny Carter's Big Band, and George Brunis. While with the house band at Chicago's College Inn, he backed up Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr. , Ella Fitzgerald, Engelbert Humpernick, and even Tiny TIm. (Cuz can be heard on the Jubilee Record album, Princess Hotel and Persian Terrace tapes)

Charlie French III - Piano - Charlie, who knew Don Hunt and Jack at the Syracuse U. School of Music, was also a waiter at a Gay 90's club in Syracuse called Memory Lane. He kept asking the manager if the newly formed SC-5 could play for Sunday afternoon jam sessions. The manager agreed and the boys spread ad flyers around the area. When the day arrived in January 1952, the place was packed and would be every Sunday the Salt City Five would appear. Charlie also arranged for the band to have a regular engagement at Club Dana in Oneida where a number of Colgate students would attend the Wednesday night sessions. One of them was Arnold Koch who was able to arrange an audition for the band for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts tv show. And, as they say, "the rest is history." Eventually, when the band left Childs Paramount in NYC and was booked for a month in Bermuda, like Don Hunt, Charlie opted to remain home. He worked as a teacher, and became a sales promotion manager for Oneida Silver. His father, Charlie French II played trumpet with some of the great bands such as Isham Jones and Ted Lewis. He was also solo trumpeter with the U.S. Naval Academy band. Without Charlie French's "sales promotion skills", who knows whether that job at Memory Lane would ever have happened ! 

 Frank Frawley - Bass - In early 1953, the Salt City Five added a bass player. Frank Frawley was on the demo record that won the Jubilee Record contract and is on the album. He was an idelible part of the band's early history. He had been one of the top bassists in Central New York. He eventually moved to Florida where he also took up piano and spent the rest of his days freelancing in the Orlando area. 

 Other Key Players

Nick Palumbo - Clarinet - When Jack Maheu left the band to join the Dukes of Dixieland, Will Alger invited Nick to join the band as the new clarinetist. Born in Chicago, by the time he was twelve he was already a fan of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and taking private lessons. While living in Scranton, he joined a group called the Musical Minors at age 15. They landed a spot on a radio show hosted by Jack Barry where they played with drummer Buddy RIch. Later, the band got the attention of Ken Murray who took them on a West Coast swing where they played at spots like the Sahara in Las Vegas and the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles. The high spot for Nick was when they shared the bill in Pasadena with the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. While a student at Syracuse, he played at a number of local clubs. Nick was with the Salt City Six for four years after taking Maheu's place. When Will Alger left, Nick took over the on-stage leadership and played some of the best venues in the country including the Metropole Cafe, The Roundtable and Nick's in NYC. Arnie Koch got the band a reording date with Roulette Records and the "Dixieland at the Roundtable" album was released, also a 45 record of Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie. In 1961, Nick  left the road, got married, and began a teaching career in local schools until retiring in 1990. For many years, his Dixieland Update has been the premier band of its kind in Central New York.  Nick can be heard on the Dixieland at the Roundtable album in the Music section.

Paul Squire - Trumpet - Another  Syracuse University grad, Paul had led his own band, the Orange Peels. In the summer of 1958, they played several weeks in Europe including six concerts at the American Pavilion at the Brussells Worlds Fair. His trumpet playing was a major addition to the Salt City SIx. Also, his training as a symphonic musician enabled him to produce a number of outstanding arrangements of such tunes as Granada and the William Tell Overture on the "Salt City SIx Plays the Classics" album. For almost a year, he played alongside Wild Davison with the Six. This dynamic pairing can be heard on the Colonial Tavern, Belle Mar, and the Castle tapes in the Music section.   

Danny D'Imperio - Drums- Danny is one of Bob Cousin's biggest fans. Danny recalls as a young man listening to the Jubilee album, with Cousins on drums, many times trying to keep up with Cuz on his drum pad. Arnie Koch first heard Danny when he sat in with Spiegle Wilcox's band at age 14 at the Hotel Syracuse. When Will and Jack regrouped the band and opened in Memory Lane in Syracuse in November 1961, Danny, age 16, and his father Bob D'Imperio were on board. Danny recalls, "the gig went oon until 1 or 2 a.m. and I never made school some mornings. One Sunday night, my home room teacher was in the audience and BAM ...I was BUSTED. Danny can be heard on the Live at the Carriage Stop album in the Music section.  For more on Danny's career and to hear him live go to: www.whodat.com/audio/dansextet/dimperio.htm.

After several years with the Salt City SIx, his stellar career continued with the Glen Miller Orchestra with Buddy DeFranco, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman's New Thundering Herd, Les Elgart, and Tony Bennet. When Buddy Rich was recovering from bypass surgery, Danny took his place. And, it was Danny who took Buddy's place with the band after Buddy's death.  Danny was playing with Jack Maheu at Eddie Condon's the night it closed. "The final tune was "September in the Rain" - the first tune played when the original club opened in 1945. Not a dry eye on the bandstand. The final cutoff. The cymbal overtones fading away for the last time.", he once wrote.   (Danny can be heard with the SC-6 on the Carriage House album).

Wild Bill Davison - Cornet - He began playing jazz cornet in the mob-run clubs of Chicago in the 1920’s and made about 800 recordings during his career and regularly toured the U.S., Europe and Asia before he died at age 83 in 1989. He was born in Defiance, Ohio, where he discovered he could produce notes from a piece of garden hose. A regular for years at Eddie Condon’s, he said at age 76, “I’ll go on playing until my teeth drop out.” A Viennese doctor once told him he should leave his body to science and Bill replied that he wasn’t through with it yet. He never forgot what Louis Armstrong told him, “If anything ever happens to me, I know you can keep on doing what I’m doing.”  On April 14, 1963, Arnie Koch had booked Wild Bill for a concert with the Salt City Six at the Belle Mar club in Syracuse. It was a perfect match and a minor sensation with the audience . Wild Bill and the Six trumpeter, Paul Squire, blended perfectly.  Bill had perfect pitch and could play perfect harmony to another musician’s lead on a song he’d never heard before. Bill remained with the band at the Belle Mar and toured with them for over a year. He also recorded a 45 of the theme song of the 1964 N.Y. World’s Fair with the Six, written by RIchard Rodgers, called “Fair is Fair”. Dave McKenna was on piano and Maury Feld on drums with the Salt City Six who were at the Fair’s Jazzland Pavilion). Wild Bill can be heard with the band on The Castle and Colonial Tavern tapes in the Music Section.

Jack Maheu remenbers when Bill was with Jack's band in Rochester, N.Y. and, somebody who knew Bill's fascination with Naziana, give Bill a huge Swastika flag.  Bill hung it out his hotel room window which generated angry phone calls to the hotel. The manager told Bill he had to bring in the flag. Bill pulled it in but, as soon as the manager left, he hung it on the wall.

Author RIchard M. Sudhalter once described the first time he saw Wild Bill at Condon’s: “This guy is seated, one leg crossed casually over the other, drink on an upended barrel in front of him. He sweeps the cornet into the side of his mouth (1) to expel some supercharged phrase, then jerks it away as if it's too hot to keep there. And I realize, awe-struck, he's chewing gum ! Where in the world does he keep that stuff when he's blowing?"

"In short, he looked just the way he sounded - like a guy from Ohio (a town named, aptly, Defiance) with a fierce, uninhibited way of attacking the beat, driving a band of whatever size halfway into tomorrow. The music comes out as from a flame-thrower, but with a density and momentum only suggested by even the best (of his) records".  New York TImes jazz critic, John S. WIlson, after a visit to Eddie Condon’s, described Wild Bill as, “pink-cheeked and cherubic, full of restless energy, plays his cornet with concentrated passion, punching out the notes in full-throated bursts and flurries, his agitated eyebrows underlining each expressive phrase, his foot-stomping the floor mercilessly His notes rip, growl, shout and mutter, a mixture that can seem lyrical or reflective at one moment or spearhead a rampaging ensemble charge at another. He is a survivor, at 72, who has not given an inch.” 

        

           In December 1963, Arnie Koch and Wild Bill met with John Hammond, Columbia Records exec, about producing a follow-up to the successful "WIld Bill With Strings" album to no avail. ( Hammond had discovered Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin,  Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen).   In January 1964, Wild Bill and the SC-6 were on the Hootenany tv show from Dartmouth College along with Johnny Cash and Joan Baez. The producer originally wanted "South Rampart St. Parade" done in 2 1/2 minutes. "After some re-arranging," recalls Arnie, "it was cut to 2 1/2 minutes. But, at rehearsal, the entire tv crew applauded and the producer changed it back to 2 1/2 minutes."

 

(1)  In 1939, while having  a drink in the bar where he was playing, Wild Bill was hit by a flying beer mug.  The mug split his lip so badly that the nerves were severed. It took weeks for the damage to heal so he could finally put the horn to the lip. Thereafter, he held his horn off center.

 

 Bobby Mahan - Piano - Born in Windsor, Ontario, and later moved to Detroit, he grew up in vaudeville appearing with a family act. He was a honky-tonk pianist in night clubs at age 17. One of the best stride pianists, he played with Peewee Hunt, Freddie Masters and Bob Scobie. His favorite pianist was Joe Sullivan. His outstanding style with the Salt City Six is displayed on the Classics in Dixieland, Dixieland to Tipperary, and the Belle Mar, The Castle and Colonial Tavern tapes in the Music section.

 

Dick Barrs - cornet - A native of Columbus, Ohio. he had his own band with George Brunis and Gene Mayl. He played for several years with Pee Wee Hunt before joining the Salt City SIx, eventually going back with Hunt. Unlike Paul Squire, who also died at a young age, Dick never got the recognition he deserved and was a big favorite with followers of the Six. Dick can be heard on the Cedar Rapids and WGBH recordings in the Music section.

 

 Mike Longo - Piano - Mike's career started in his father's band, but later Julian Cannonball Adderley helped him get gigs of his own. Their working relationship began before Adderley was well-known as a band leader. Adderley approached the teenaged Longo because he needed a pianist at his church. At this time the town was largely segregated so the white Mike Longo playing at a black church was somewhat unusual. While in the 10th grade, one of the places Longo played was Porky's, which was later portrayed in the movie. Mike would go on to receive his Bachelor of Music degree from Western Kentucky University.

He went on the road with the Hal McIntyre Orchestra and also played with legendary guitarist Hank Garland in Nashville. Mike toured for two years with the Salt City Six. After the group played at New York’s Metropole Cafe (Arnie Koch still has the contract signed by Mike), the band left, but Mike stayed on as the house pianist playing with such jazz notables as Coleman Hawkins, Henry Red Allen, George Wettling, Gene Krupa and many others.

Dizzy Gillespie heard Mike when he was playing at The Metropole. "I was playing downstairs with Red Allen, and Dizzy was playing upstairs with his band. Every time he went outside for a break, he had to come down the stairs and pass us on the way out. Soon I learned Dizzy mentioned me in an interview in International Musician, the musician union’s magazine, when he was asked about any promising young musicians he heard".  

After studying with Oscar Peterson, Mike moved permanently to New York City and worked with many great singers -- Nancy Wilson, Gloria Lynn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing and others. He did an extended stay at Embers West with bassist Paul Chambers accompanying acts such as Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Frank Wess, Clark Terry, Zoot Sims and Roy Eldridge.  In the 1960s Longo formed the Mike Longo Trio, which would remain active for the next 42 years. Gillespie was playing at the Metropole again and Mike, had just gotten a gig at Embers West playing with Roy Eldridge. Eldridge brought Gillespie to see Mike playing with Paul Chambers. Gillespie hired Mike and he eventually became musical director for the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet. Later Gillespie chose him to be the pianist for the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band. From 1966 onward Mike’s music career would be strongly linked to Gillespie's. In1993, he delivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died.

  Longo's big band, the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble, plays at the center intermittently and provides upcoming musicians a chance to learn on stage and the audience receives a jazz experience at reasonable cost.  A big part of Mike Longo's mission is to reestablish the apprenticeship relationship in teaching jazz. He says, "I know jazz education is an important thing and I know that the field means well, but there seems to be a trend to teach jazz where people are actually copying off recordings instead of actually learning to play jazz. The apprenticeship aspect of jazz has always been the way it has evolved." 

        The Mike Longo Trio’s latest album, “Sting Like A Bee”, was reviewed in the April 2010 issue of Downbeat Magazine.

 

Gap Mangione - Piano -Gap  Mangione joined the Salt City Six on piano in 1958 in time to appear with the Six at the Buffalo Philaharmmonic Orchestra’s Jazz Vs. Classics concert at Kleinhans Music Hall.  Music critic, Kenneth Gill of the Buffalo News, wrote that, “the Hall was just large enough to hold the attending crowd - an infrequent happening this summer”, and that, “the band provided improvisations beyond belief.” (You can hear the concert at the Salt City 5/6 website (www.saltcity56.com).

Gap first met future members of the Six (Nick Palumbo and Phil Hogan) while attending Syracuse University. While at Syracuse. he was house pianist at the Three Rivers Inn Theater Restaurant near Syracuse and played in big bands accompanying the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nat King Cole.  (Years before, the Salt City FIve  had shared billing with Bobby Darin and Julius LaRosa).  

  He was with the band in 1958 when they recorded the Dixieland at the Roundtable album for Roulette Records. (Which can also be heard on the SC5/6 website.) In the liner notes, Down Beat Associate Editor, George Hoefer, says, “Gap’s best solo is on Indiana  which  has a melodic line that has always attracted the progressive musicians.” 

He appeared with the Six at the prestigious Roundtable  in Manhattan. According to my diary, when i went there in April ‘59, “the place was packed and people waiting to get in and NBC’s Monitor did a live radio broadcast.” The band was on a double bill with a group led by Tyree Glen on vibes; Tommy Flanagan on piano; Tommy Potter, bass; and Elvin Jones on drums. Glen had been with Armstrong and Ellington, Flanagan recorded with John Coltrane and accompanied Ella fitzgerald, and Jones also recorded with Coltrane and his own outstanding groups.

Our agent, the legendary Joe Glaser, was there that night. Also, Jack Crystal, owner of the Commodore Record store. He was the first to book the Five at the cavernous Central Plaza ballroom in Manhattan after the Arthur Godfrey shows.  He was the father of Billy Crystal - who wrote a loving tribute to his father, called 700 Sundays, about how many Sundays he got to spend with his father before his untimely death. He remembers dancing to the jazz music on the Plaza stage as a kid. 

Gap left the band in May1959 when he and his brother, Chuck, decided it was time to form their own band called The Jazz Brothers. Through the efforts of an admiring Cannonball Adderley they recorded their first album in 1960 for Riverside Records called, not surprisingly, The Jazz Brothers.  Two more albums, Hey Baby! and Spring Fever were released the following year and are now collector's items.

In 1968, he released his first solo album, Diana In The Autumn Wind 

with brother Chuck's orchestral arrangements. Four years later came  Gap's Sing Along With Junk album on the Mercury label. He has also recorded four albums for A & M, She and I, Gap Mangione!, Suite Lady and Dancin'. From 1972 through 1982, Gap toured the U.S. with his group and also performed in Mexico, Canada and Europe. He regularly appeared as featured guest artist on Chuck Mangione's orchestra tours and recordings.

  Since then, Gap  has spent more time playing in and around Rochester and less time on the road. He formed the Gap Mangione New Big Band, which remains the premier dance and concert big band in the area. It has  three CDs: Planet Gap, Stolen Moments and Family Holidays. 

Today, he continues to make regular local appearances among them the Woodcliff Hotel and Spa (since May, 1987), Pier 45 at the Port and the Rochester International Jazz Festival, as well as private gigs; he can be found playing solo, with the 14-piece New Big Band, the New Blues Band  (a quartet) or his sextet. He and Chuck continue to play together, mainly for appearances with symphony orchestras, or with Chuck as special guest with Gap's big band.

 

   Meanwhile, go to www.gapmangione.com for more about Gap.