Search Content

Entries in Joe Fortunato (3)


NEW Updated Version: - Friends and Colleagues


BUNCH HAMMOND - "Mr. Bassman"

Bunch Hammond - known throughout the Tri-State Area as “Mr. BassMan” - he has appeared with such greats in the Jazz world including Nina Simone, Roy Eldridge, Buddy DeFranco, Dizzy Gillespie and others.  His small combos whether they would be; trios, quartets, quintets or sextets the band was always called 
“Bunch Hammond and Friends”
Likely so, because Bunch was a friendly person that always extended a helping hand when needed.
While a member of a special services unit during the Korean War, he switched to the bass from drums and got to know Ray Brown, a noted Jazz bassist who would influence his musical career.
Ironically, I had the opportunity to meet Bunch during the early 1970s when a family member was working for Dr. Eugene Garfield owner of The Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) located at 3501 Market Streets in Philadelphia, PA. 
Dr. Garfield was an avid JAZZ fan that found enjoyment in playing the Alto Saxophone. He was a close friend to Bunch Hammond and most of his band members while attending many their concert performances and club dates through the years.
Since Bunch and I, had similar experiences while playing during our careers, we spoke respectfully and candidly to each other regarding some of our mutual friends in the music business. Instantly, we were on the same page and he extended his assistance with many of our future concerts and promotions.
We both and other colleagues co-produced local Jazz Events featuring an all-star line-up of Philadelphia musicians. 
The first event was “Philadelphia’s Own” Jazz Festival held at The Metropolitan Opera House (MET) located at 858 North Broad Street in Philadelphia.
The success of that promotion lead to another at The Memphis Club a center city location which generated a SRO crowd of more than 550 that enjoyed and participated in a live recording production.
The recording featured four popular Jazz Groups from the Philly area, which ended in a two-part Jam Session spotlighting each musician as a soloist to standing ovations from the audience.
During his career as a Jazz musician he always shared the bandstand with excellent players that included guitarist, Thornell Schwartz, Rudy Jones, tenor sax, Johnny Belmont alto Sax, Larry LaBes Piano, Roy Thomas Drums, and featured Vocalist Jeannie Kaye, plus many others.


Throughout the years of our friendship prior to his death in 1989, Bunch was always ready to extend a helping-hand when needed.



"The Fortunato - Gagliardi Duo"

I was contacted by a mutual colleague of mine,  who recently recorded  and collaborated  on a CD with Joe Fortunato (Fortunato & Gagliardi Duo).   This recording consists of five popular standard songs featuring the unreleased version of “Moonlight in Vermont” – “Body & Soul” plus others including the romantic lush sounds of a Saxophone & Guitar duo to be enjoyed.  We have made available these tracks for your listen pleasure and encourage feedback.

During the early 1990’s there was a place called “The Balligo Inn” located on Balligomingo Road in Conshohocken, PA. The Balligo was a weekend quaint rustic Inn that featured a limited menu of sandwiches & salads plus a bar that served many-imported International Beer labels that were not able to find in other places.  The Philadelphia Inquirer and other local newspapers ranked and acclaimed this place as one of the best venues to hear live JAZZ in the tri-state area.  Every Friday & Saturday night the Jazz entertainment consisted of a House Trio or Quartet lead by saxophonist Joe Fortunato that featured Papa John DeFrancesco, organ – Eddie McFadden, guitar – Mike Anthony on drums. The entertainment policy was to have a “Jazz Open House” each weekend in order to give a creative musical outlet to aspiring young musicians and experienced musicians that were traveling through the Philadelphia area.  On many occasions, you were able to witness a major Jazz musician or vocalist stop-by just to say hello and sit-in with the band members for an impromptu performance that would generate standing ovations from a 200-seat capacity crowd.


One night a young guitar player named Lou Gagliardi stopped by to sit-in with the house musicians and played for most of the evening.  Ironically, Eddie McFadden former sideman to Jimmy Smith for many years would be taking time off to fulfill prior commitments and would return after a few months.  It was at this time that Joe Fortunato enjoyed playing with Lou Gagliardi and felt that he could be an important asset to the vacated position and offered the spot to Lou until Eddie McFadden’s return.


Lou Gagliardi Biography:

Lou was born in Philadelphia 1959.  He began studying guitar at age (8) at the Granoff School of Music.  At age of (13-16), he performed at Classical Guitar Society Annual Student Recitals (14-16). 

In 1977, after graduating from Council Rock High School, Lou attended Drexel University and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering 1982.  After working (4) years as an Aerospace engineer for the US Navy, he decided to quit engineering and went into music full time.

He studied Jazz guitar with for many years with three prominent teachers Robert Wall, Dennis Sandole and Tom Giacabetti.

Lou’s notable performances included the 1990 Philly Fest and Mellon Jazz Festival.

His other duet performances with Joe Fortunato included various concerts at the Kimmel Center, located in “The Avenue of the Arts” located on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA.

Footnote:  Since I retired from playing – My only regret is that I never had an opportunity to play with this extraordinary duo.