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Entries in Philly Jam Sessions (4)

12:12AM

Johnny Saint - "The Joyriders" - Part I - *A Country Walk Back Home* Instrumental

"A COUNTRY WALK BACK HOME"  

The inspiration to compose this original melody came about one evening while I was  having a casual meeting with longtime friend and musician, drummer Johnny Saint. We casually reflected about the many cities and nightclubs & musical lounges that we worked through the years. Traveling the east and west coasts of the United States plus the many appearances across the border into various sections of Canada.

“The Joyriders”

“The Joyriders” consisted of a swinging 5-piece combo from thes Philadelphia with a large fan club throughout the Delaware Valley on the East Coast. This group was headed by Johnny Saint,(drums) and close friends from the surrounding area of the city of Philadelphia . . . which included Tony Dell,(keyboards)-Joe Mallace,(guitar)- Rocky Angelo,(bass) , that paved the way for various Sax-men from Philly. These excellent reedmen included Nick Carr, Don Russell, Armand Saviano, Bobby Borda, and Dom Albano. The vocal expertise and musicianship was featured in all of their material from the current Top 10 Hits of the day to various Jazz arrangements that gave each member a solo spotlight at each and every performance.

I was fortunate to join the group in the mid-1960s after I departed “The Frank Virtue & the Virtues Revue.” Most of the members of “The Joyriders” were from the same Philadelphia neighborhood and enjoyed the same type of music from Rhythm & Blues, Classic Rock & Roll and JAZZ.  With this in mind, the experimental boundaries and musical input from each member at every performance was enjoyed by the audiences throughout the country.

While we spoke about the many cities we had traveled in the past. -  I played a demo tape of my instrumental composition “A Country Walk Back Home” that was dedicated to miles of travel through the years. As a drummer . . . I needed his input for a recording session, his creativity and spontaneous rhythm was shared by all during the session.

*** (Produced and composed at IEA Recording Studios in the mid-70s - I was able to secure the talents of my friends that have recorded for major labels in the past. Even though, the saxophone is featured as the solo instrument.

<*> The rhythm section is tightly led by my friend Johnny Saint who devised a swinging touch of a two-beat rhythm tempo - which many people enjoyed dancing too at every performance.)

 In the following Chapters:

I also would like to recap some of

Johnny Saint’s memorable moments of his career in music.

Chapter 1

Looking back over more than 35 years in the music business . . .I realize what a blessing it was to be able to play an instrument as a drummer. - To be able to make a living at it is even sweeter. It is the only job that you would do for no pay, just to have the chance to play.

Johnny SaintFORT PITT- Atlantic CityMy group was called “The Joyriders” and from 1959 to 1963 I would play at Atlantic City’s “Fort Pitt” musical lounge located on New York Avenue & the Boardwalk from 10:00 pm to 3:00am.  After we completed our work schedule, our band and some friends all visited the famous Club Harlem located on what was known as “Kentucky & the Curb” where Chris Colombo & his band alternated with saxophonist Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson’s band until 5:00am. Then it was off to Rocky Castillani’s club at Missouri & Atlantic Avenues to play more music.


That point reminds me of the mornings I spent listening to some of the best music I ever heard at “Rocky’s” Bar that was owned by former middleweight boxer Rocky Castellani in Atlantic City.  The house band was an organ trio but by 4:00am . . . it became a Jazz Open House that featured visiting musicians from the surrounding seashore areas of Somers Point & Wildwood, New Jersey. During this time it would be possible to see, hear and enjoy as many as 10 or more musicians on the bandstand taking part of a swinging Jam Session that would last until the early morning hours of daylight.

Reflecting back to the age of five years old, my first interest in music was when I would listen to a Fat’s Waller radio show as I ate my lunch every day.

I liked the melodies being played, but I was more interested in the tempos and how it all meshed together with the other instruments. At an early age, when I began taking drum lessons at Wurlitzer’s Music store located at 10th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia, PA . . . I honestly believed I was destined to be a musician. At the age of 14, I played my first job in a neighborhood bar, with a trio consisting of accordion, banjo and myself on the drums. I made $10.00 each night for Friday and Saturday weekend. I was hooked.

I also remember that on the second floor of Wurlitzer’s Music Store there was a free open space that was available for Jam Sessions every Tuesday Night to visiting musicians working within the Philadelphia area with other traveling Big Bands. Whoever was in town would stop by and play for this Jazz Open House.

One night there was Horace Silver, Chet Baker, and Zoot Sims all on the bandstand at once. One night a 15year old young man sat in and played his trumpet and blew everyone away . . . his name was Lee Morgan who later became a leading Jazz trumpeter and composer with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. 

  *<> * (More interesting material in upcoming future Chapters)

 

10:52AM

"FATHER JOHN" D'AMICO - Jazz Pianist - SPOTLIGHT #5

The city of Philadelphia known as “The City of Brotherly Love” has a record of accomplishments to being a melting pot for entertainment celebrities from the South Philly section The Italian Market located on 9th street between Tasker thru Lombard Sts. This location featured Sylvester Stallone's “Rocky” movie. The depiction was Stallone training and running thru this South Philly neighborhood . . . along the riverside of Penn’s Landing and finishing at the Art Museum Steps.  
Philadelphia’s contribution to the music world has always been Opera, small music combos, rock & roll, and Jazz. Bob Horn hosted the local TV dance show “Original Bandstand” and later Dick Clark hosted the national version of American Bandstand. These shows plus various nightclubs within the Philadelphia area such as The Latin Casino, Palumbo’s Restaurant Café owned by Frank Palumbo featured Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, The Four Aces, Johnny Ray, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Louis Prima plus many Big Bands and popular headline recording acts that were on the top 10 list of the Billboard Charts.  
Back in the mid-1980s, returning to the Philadelphia area from a business trip to Florida, as a promotion endeavor, I decided to contact a group of my talented musician friends; it was time to pay tribute to various local Philadelphia Jazz musicians that have deserved recognitions for their talents over the years. With this in mind, I had the opportunity to contact and work with a group of musician friends from the Philadelphia area. A live recording date scheduled at a leading center city Jazz club was the location in the heart of Philadelphia. The participating musicians were close friends that agreed to perform as part of this proposed album called “All That Live Jazz.”
Highlighting the musical styles of Jazz of four prominent Jazz groups was a success. The featured groups were ACT-IV lead by saxophonist Joe Fortunato, featuring a young organist Joey DeFrancesco, plus the famed jazz guitarist Eddie McFadden, the “Father John” D’Amico Trio, The Bunch Hammond Quintet, and saxophonist Ray Fern and his Quintet. 
With the added cooperation from pianist, “Father “John D’Amico he was able to make arrangements for interviews at Temple University’s radio station “Jazz WRTI.” In addition, his wife Kathy D’Amico was very instrumental in contacting a long list of loyal jazz fans and friends, which made this evening of Jazz a success.

 

 

It is a little known fact:
At the age of 6 years old, "Father John" began playing classical piano. As a teenager, he played the sounds of commercial rock & roll and predominantly Jazz. The decision of placing his jazz career on hold was to enter St. Charles Seminary to become an ordained Priest. While he was a practicing Priest, he renewed his studies in jazz piano. At the age of 29 another career decision had to be made, "Father John" traded in his pulpit for a piano.
“Father John" is considered one of the world's finest jazz composers, lyricists, and pianists who has performed at many of Philadelphia's best-known clubs and major venues throughout the Delaware Valley. He has been featured on National Public Radio and has played with a long list of jazz greats: Lionel Hampton, vocalist Etta Jones, bassist Charles Fambrough, and saxophonists Jimmy Oliver, Bootsie Barnes, and Lou Tobakin, and percussionist Doc Gibbs. The great drummer, "Philly Joe" Jones, was a featured member of The "Father John" D'Amico Trio.  This reigning "Lord of the Keyboard." was chosen as (10/13//95) Jazz Instrumentalist of the week on BET's Jazz Discoveries, as well as National airplay on BET's Jazz TV Station. "Father John" was a 1989 recipient of the John Coltrane Award for Outstanding Achievement in Jazz, and was a featured artist in the National Public Radio's "At the Bride" series 1989-1990. July 1994, "Father John" was distinguished with a biographical segment "The Jazz Man," that aired on Larry Kane's "The Bulletin" (KYW-TV)
In the recent past, The "Father John" Trio has returned from a triumphant week in Europe where they astounded and enthralled audiences of 300 to 400 a night. They were well received by the European press and broadcasting media. His trio has also had numerous live radio concert broadcast on stations WRTI, WHYY, and WPEN. 
Currently, “Father John” is the house pianist along with “Big Jim” Dofton, on drums and bassist Kenny Davis at the popular  23rd St. Jazz Café located at 233 North 23 Street in Philadelphia.  The 23rd ST. Café has been featuring Jam Sessions since 1988 and 100's of musicians and vocalists have sat in from around the world.
* The night of November 22, 2011 *
“Father John” was very influential along with the cooperation of “Big Jim” manager of 23rd St. Café in promoting a Memorial Tribute for our mutual friend Joe Fortunato who died on October 28, 2011.
One of the tunes “Father John” played appropriately enough was "Killer Joe."  - As “Father John” said . . .  “It was sweet playing in memory of Joe and paying tribute to him and to his family.”
“Father John” . . . as a friend I personally would like to say Thank You for the tribute. 
There is more information about my friend “Father John D’Amico” please visit the following links. Email Address: fatherjohn.damico@verizon.net

 http://www.myspace.com/fatherjohndamicotrio             http://mysite.verizon.net/vze1r04a/index.html

         

2:49AM

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.

 

10:23AM

"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.