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Entries in Las Vegas (13)


JOE GIORDANO - Vocalist With Style

Starting in South Philly clubs ( in the 60’s ) such as the Venus Lounge, he was heard by a vocal trainer named Artie Singer who also trained, Al Martino, James Darren, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, and other  popular singers that were in the mainstream of music during the 1960’s.

 Until 1967, Joe played local “gigs” and landed a stint in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel.  Soon afterwards, he met and married a California girl and decided that his singing career had to go on hold to build a stable family foundation.

 Back on the East Coast while operating his own prosperous construction company, the opportunity to perform a long contracted engagement at Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino Hotel and The Playboy Hotel Casino was confirmed by long-time producer/promoter/agent friend Danny Luciano, President of International Entertainment Associates in Atlantic City.

 These performances led to many other bookings to perform his vocal stylings at the Sheraton Inn Airport, Warwick Hotel and Hilton Stadium Inn.

 Joe’s adult contemporary style has left the crowds swaying at many popular nite-spots in the Tri-State area of Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware as well as favorite dinner clubs in New York City.

 Joe’s back on stage and are we glad. He’s having fun again!


TONY ANGELO - Musician, Entertainer, Colleague & Friend

TONY ANGELO - is one of the finest Saxophonist from the South Philadelphia area. He traveled the East & West Coasts plus touring Internationally as a leader & side man with many combos playing Rhythm & Blues, Big Band arrangements and Jazz - - - Giving him the opportunity to appear at many well-known showrooms and lounges in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Miami. On many occasions he shared the bandstand with many top-name recording artists and performers during the 1960s & '70s. This experience as a musician and performer of more than 25 years in the entertainment business gave him a wealth of knowledge to manage, produce and secure bookings for other leading musicians during his career as booking agent.  

During this time, Tony teamed-up with another professional entertainer & trumpet player and big band master Andy Angel (Angelucci) from upstate Pennsylvania.  Together they began performing as a musical revue featuring many jazz arrangements, vocals, and comedy material to entertain audiences on the East Coast.

Andy Angel also has 30 years of experience to his credit making TV appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and has perforformed on the same bill with Ella Fitzgerald, Erskin hawkins, Lionel Hampton, Della Reese and Louie Prima at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas.

 ANGEL & ANGELO Musical Revue - Is a musical comedy revue that has performed for SRO Crowds throughout the United States. The production of this video clip narrated by my friend and colleague is to share a brief summary of his entertainment career and portions of the complete performance that was held at The Three Rivers Restaurant in Syracuse, NY. The show consists of Big Band musical arrangements, Comedy and Mainstream Jazz.


SAM DISTEFANO - VP OF Entertainment For Playboy Enterprises & My Introduction to a Friend - Part I

It was during the early 1960’s - before the passing of legalized gambling in Atlantic City. Looking back at this seashore town, I distinctly remember many of the musical lounges and nightclubs within a distance of approx. 2 miles. I had the privilege of playing with a number of combos and show-revues that were located on both Pacific and Atlantic Avenues. To name a few of these venues, there was “The Chez Paree’ - “Fort Pitt” – “The Sea Shell” – “McGettigan’s & Maguire” – “The Erin Sho-Bar” – “The Bamboo” – "The 7:30 Lounge" - “The LeBistro” – “Rocky Castellani’s” – “Club Harlem” – “The Hialeah” and many others including the Famous “500 Club” on Missouri Avenue. It was a special time I can recall, on breaks, visiting other bands and sitting-in for Jam Sessions until it was time to return back to play the original club. This would continue nightly throughout the summer season until the dawn.  Also, many of these musicians and Jazz players were from other states including Chicago played Atlantic City’s Steel Pier as side-men with the big bands of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey in addition to the major recording celebrities during that time. Some of the musicians that came from the Chicago area often talked about various venues located on the North and South side of the city. On the other side of the coin, this gave the opportunity for my local musician friends from the Tri-state area that played The Ambassador East Hotel, Continental Plaza, Hyatt Regency located downtown on Wacker Drive, they would often visit The Cloister, Tradewinds, & The Living Room nightclubs, all within driving distance. These venues would feature The Sam Distefano Trio performing nightly with visiting Jazz musicians and vocalists. Upon returning to the Philadelphia area, my friends would often talk about the talent & musicianship of Sam Distefano’s Trio and their welcoming of musicians plus vocalists from other areas. 

As we fast-forward to the year of 1976, 
legalized gambling in Atlantic City was approved. There was a big change to unfold as the building and reconstructing of existing hotels to Casinos took place. The nightlife and musical lounges that stretched along this 2 mile area of Pacific and Atlantic Avenues plus the Boardwalk sections of the city was becoming a memory of the past. Resorts International was the first casino and others to follow were The Sands, Claridge, and Bally’s, Tropicana, Golden Nuggett and The Playboy Casino.
Since Resorts International featured the Top-Name celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, and others – the lounge would be featuring Sam Butera & The Witnesses, The Treniers, The Checkmates, Freddie Bell & the Bellboys on a regular basis.  
***At that time, I organized a theatrical booking agency named International Entertainment Associates (IEA). In the year of 1979, my agency was active in promoting various fund-raising events for organizations in the Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate New Jersey areas.  When “Playboy” Casino opened for business – I had the opportunity to meet a respected Entertainment Director Sam Distefano, he was also VP of Entertainment for Playboy Enterprises. This was in the year of 1981. Even though my agency was active in securing entertainment for other casinos along the boardwalk area, it was my good fortune to meet Sam and to explain the entertainment roster of Show-Band Revues from the area with their following of fans and friends, which would be an asset to the Lounge at The Playboy Casino.  During the length of time that Sam was in Atlantic City, he gave me the opportunity to secure engagements for my entertainment roster of bands in addition, the producing of the afternoon show-revue  

“Summers & Winters” for the bus tours bringing visitors to the Playboy Casino. We developed a working friendship and spoke about various mutual friends in the entertainment business. I in-turn introduced Sam to my colleagues in Atlantic City. 


<*> More to follow - about Sam Distefano's association with many Top-Name entertainment celebrities

of Atlantic City, Chicago, and Las Vegas . . . in addition, the sharing of friendly anecdotes

during the time, he spent in Atlantic City.  Also my appreciation & gratitude with more information to follow - about the career of Mike Distefano (son), and for his contribution of photos & memorabilia of Sam's respected career in the world of entertainment. <>





"Vintage 50's-60's Band Photographs" - Spotlights #5

The upstate area of New York consisted of major hotel venues that featured popular entertainment on a nightly basis. The Three Rivers Inn located in Syracuse, The Concord , Grossinger’s, Brown’s Hotel in the Catskills Borscht Belt and The Thruway hotel in Albany all hosted popular singers, Big Bands and comedians during the 1960’s.

During this time, Al Antonio & Audrey featuring the Lyrics were a popular entertaining Las Vegas Revue that featured music, variety and comedy.  We appeared at The Thruway on many repeated engagements throughout the 1960’s also performing and traveling in a circuit of hotel venues throughout Massachusetts, Michigan and Canada   
Al Antonio was a close friend of Sammy Davis Jr., and friend of jazz saxophonists Charlie Ventura, and Richie Kamuca. A talented performer, he was a comedian, who was able to play a number of instruments very well. His main show consisted of doing a theatrical rendition of A1 Jolson in black face make-up with all the props, which included special lighting techniques and set up.
Another memorable time is about an incident that occurred on opening night at The Thruway show place. In addition, it was quite a funny one at that. This incident happened on a dark night in late September 1965. What a night! (Adapted from Page #258 in “Jazz Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”)
This is how it was: Closing night was on a Saturday evening at The Office Lounge Club, located in Louisville Kentucky. The entire band members packed their instruments and belongings’ we checked out of the hotel and all had a brief breakfast and started our journey in early Sunday morning hours to The Thruway Hotel in Albany, NY for our next engagement with a Monday night opening scheduled at 8:00pm.  We drove approximately 14 hours through the night from Louisville, Kentucky and arriving in Albany, New York early Monday afternoon. Our schedule for showtime was to start playing at 8:00pm at the Thruway Hotel. As it was still early, the props and lighting had yet to be set up on the bandstand.
After our short rehearsal of our new musical arrangements, in which we paid tribute to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Coleman Hawkins, all the band members pitched in to help the hotel staff technicians set up. The high-rise bandstand was equipped with various types of theatrical lighting for many effects. The manual controlled lighting effects also were automated in conjunction by the sound vibrations of played music. 
A staff technician of the Hotel asked if I could assist in making the connections to the overhead monitors on stage. As I was making the connection to these huge monitors, the electrical power in the hotel suddenly failed and everything went dark. Everyone thought that I had caused the power outage there; as we later found out that, there was no electricity, anywhere in the city. Ironically, a main generator had failed at the same interval of time (approx. 5:15pm) that I had made the connection to the monitors.
On the next day, the morning newspaper headline read "BLACKOUT IN NEW YORK."
However, the show must go on! Despite the situation, we performed two shows to a full house. The candlelight atmosphere with small generators, might have even added more to the show’s performance.
A short time ago, I received an interesting email from Alexander Durant stating that in his collection of memorabilia he had an autographed photo of the original band members of Al Antonio & The Riotmen and would I be interested in seeing this photo.  This original group went to Las Vegas to perform the early strip hotels during the late 1950’s. During this time, he became friendly with Sammy Davis Jr. and members of the Rat Pack.
Since the Thruway was a major showplace that hosted jazz vocalist Carmen McRae, Erskine Hawkins, Jimmy Holmes, and various popular big bands. Alexander Durant has shown his generosity in sharing various band photos from his collection that have performed in the area. 
The band members in this collection all shared musical moments in Popular, Rhythm & Blues and Jazz during their tenures in music. ***Al I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation for making this collection available to our website visitors.*  Thanks, Danny





Stan RossRecently, my friend saxophonist Stan Ross contacted me to let me know that he located information of our mutual friend Ray Hyman. Stan took this photo one day in the mid 1990s while they both visited saxophone repairperson George Sarkis’ shop that was located next to the Musicians Union Hall Local 77 that was located in the vicinity of 18th & Arch Sts...on north 18th Street in Philadelphia.

While Stan was acquainted with Ray Hyman for many years . . . and I would meet Ray on various occasions upon returning from working out of town engagements while getting my saxophone repaired.


This obituary news article was Published: August 22, 1997

Recently Saxophonist and Inventor

 Ray Hyman, a musician and inventor, died on Aug. 15 at his home in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. He was 86. Mr. Hyman was an accomplished saxophonist who performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly 60 years. He was one of the few musicians to have worked under the orchestra's three longtime conductors, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy and Riccardo Muti.  

He also performed with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and with the Lester and Howard Lanin Society Bands.

In the late 1950's, Mr. Hyman designed and patented a saxophone strap that quickly won favor among musicians and is widely used today.Hyman - SAX STRAP

He also designed a popular saxophone case, the "Sax-Pak,"  SAX-PAKand designed several homes in Philadelphia, in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and  Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

He is survived by two daughters, Judith Corson and Dena Robbins; two sons, Asher and Michael; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.   *author unknown

 Special note from Stan Ross

As I began to edge my way through Philadelphia's musical arena I met Ray Hyman. It was at the nationally known George Sarkis musical repair shop next to the Philadelphia Musician's Union. I enjoyed his friendship and guidance during my Twenty-year existence in the world of music.

Despite his stature and accomplishments, Ray was always the gentleman, always the interested listener to my-self conceived draw backs.  *Stan Ross