Tag Archives: trumpet

Lou Colombo Memorial June 17 Poster and Website

Click here to view the Lou Colombo Memorial Poster

Lori Colombo wrote on the Facebook page Lou Colombo Remembered:

“Wanted you all to be on the look out for the Memorial poster for my Dad….it’s so beautiful! It’s coming up…June 17 Father’s Day…a reminder for you all to think about the beautiful things about your dads.”

Visit the new Lou Colombo Remembered Website here.

Our Jazz Heritage: Lou Colombo

Lou Colombo playing a pocket trumpet at the Roadhouse Cafe Florida.

Lou Colombo at the Roadhouse Cafe Florida.

Ed. note: On the night of March 3, 2012, Lou Colombo died in an auto accident on his way home from performing at the Roadhouse Cafe FL. The following is a message from lifelong friend and pianist Joe Delaney:

“Today marks one of the saddest days of my life. The untimely devastating loss of trumpeter, athlete, family man, entertainer and a man of great brilliance, compassion, humor and wit. Loved by all whom he touched. A great friend, brother, father figure, teacher, inspiration and role model of which I will forever aspire towards. And his many natural talents were a gift from God, however he understood the necessity of working on maintaining them on a daily basis through strength both physically, in is highly demanding work, and equally strength of character.

“As a reward for his tireless effort he was blessed by his loving adoring and supportive wife Noel and six wonderful children and many grandchildren. And artistically he passed at the top of his game as he was always improving from day one as it was his never ending quest. When it was time to be serious, he played not only with his natural attributes and abilities but more importantly directly from his heart. When a situation allowed for or even demanded his famous gift for clowning around and putting an entire audience at ease and in good spirit not only was he up for the challenge but one of the absolute best in the business. Very outgoing and fearless in public, however in order to create that a well balanced and required humble, forever inquisitive, ambitious and truly brilliant person with a great deal of sensitivity must also co-exist. He had it all and was touched by God.

“His love of family and his love of home life never stunted his growth as a true artist, from the perspective of the countless fellow artists who worshiped him my self included, but only served to enhance it. Lou always said he could get his best rest and was at peace when there was a half a dozen or more children running around, as opposed to a life on the road as a musician or athlete, that again supports his necessities to remain at the top his game, simply by virtue of having the ability and support to sustain everything that was important to him. And he was as famous for all these positive and admirable qualities by both the artist and non artist. That is a major achievement for any human being “to love and be loved in return”.

“Lou will be missed and never forgotten by those he has given years of pleasure to or just a fleeting hello. And his memory will be defined not only as gifted artist, but as a good and decent human being and family man. I know he’ll be rewarded in the after life to the same degree of effort he put into his Earthly life. And when the shock and despair begins to lift for his family, there will always remain the highest degree of pride for one of The Greatest Champions Of All Time!!!”

Lou Colombo was born and raised in Brockton, MA. He began playing the trumpet at age 12. Following two years in the service, he played professional baseball for about 7 years. A badly broken ankle forced him to retire from the Brooklyn Dodgers at age 24—bad for baseball, good for music! He then devoted his energy to music, playing trumpet full-time and periodic travels with big bands led by Benny Goodman, Buddy Morrow and Perez Prado.

Lou played jazz festivals throughout the US, Canada and Europe and appeared on jazz cruises with the Artie Shaw Orchestra (under the direction of Dick Johnson) on Norwegian Cruise Lines. He currently travels with the Shaw organization when his schedule permits.

Lou spends his winters in Florida with his daughters Sherri and Lynda. While in the Sunshine State, he performs on both coasts. You can catch a live performance by Lou and the players at The Roadhouse Cafe in Ft. Myers this coming January. Check our Facebook page for dates and times, and while you’re there, please “like” our page..

One of Lou’s best-known CDs on the Concord label is I Remember Bobby from 1990, which also features pianist Dave McKenna, bassist Phil Flanigan and guitarist Gray Sergeant. The CD is a tribute to a close friend and fellow Cape Codder, the great jazz cornetist Bobby Hackett. Other CDs feature Lou with the late Cape Cod reedman Dick Johnson and the Artie Shaw Orchestra.

Here is Dizzy Gillespie’s comment on Lou Colombo, from a radio interview with Eric Jackson on WGBH in1988:

“Lou Colombo is what I would call a trumpet painter, he resolves. He starts playing and the notes keep going, but the chord keeps changing all the time. He’s a marvelous trumpet player. I went one night to hear him play. Boy, he asked me to play with him and I said ‘No—you got it, brother!’ I’m not going to jump into that hot water…Lou’s pretty weird the way he plays because he plays with just one hand. He plays the valves with his right hand but doesn’t hold the horn with his left hand. This guy’s amazing. I’ve been preaching his name ever since that night I first heard him down on Cape Cod. Lou’s a beautiful player. One of the characteristics of his playing is his tone, his sound, it’s gorgeous.”

Read about Lou Colombo in the Cape Cod Times.

Watch a video of Lou performing at the Roadhouse Cafe Ft. Myers.

Something Old, Something New

[Ed. note: this item is contributed by Steve McKenna, son of the late Cape Cod-based pianist Dave McKenna, who performed often with Lou Colombo and appeared at the Roadhouse Cafe Hyannis.]


Joe Venuti and Dave McKenna Alone at the Palace

Joe Venuti and Dave McKenna Alone at the Palace

Joe Venuti and Dave McKenna – Alone at the Palace
Recorded 1977 Chiaroscuro Records

One of my favorite records, this is a duo record with Dad and the late, great Jazz violinist Joe Venuti (Giuseppe Venuti).  It would be hard to find someone who could swing harder on any instrument than Joe on violin, and I have heard on more than one occasion from musicians that this is some of the best Dave McKenna on record.

Joe claimed to have been born aboard a ship as his parents emigrated from Italy, but it is widely believed he was born in Philadelphia. Joe was one of Jazz’s real characters and a legendary practical joker. An often told story about Joe is the time in Hollywood, CA when he went through the union book and called called 26 (or was it 46?) tuba players and told them he had a gig for them and to meet (at the same time) at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. He then watched from his hotel window as chaos and confusion soon developed on the street below as the tuba players showed up with their instruments.

As a young teen I had the privilege to play golf with Joe, the great trumpet player Lou Colombo and Lou’s son Tommy at the Bass River Golf Course on Cape Cod. Joe had no shoes to play golf in so he was taken to a Department store where he bought a pair of the ugliest red and black sneakers I had/have ever seen. They were like the old low cut converse Chuck Taylors but with a red and black shape design that only could have been sold in the ’70s…Chuck Taylor meets Andy Warhol on Joe Venuti’s feet…and if you have ever seen what Joe Venuti looked like you would understand the sneakers were just the beginning of sensory overload. I don’t remember many details of the golf but I do remember Joe did most of the talking, providing nonstop colorful commentary while Lou Colombo laughed hysterically throughout (for those of you that have not met Lou he has a world class, Hall of Fame laugh).

Joe took the McKenna family out for an Italian meal one evening on the Cape. Now we are with Giuseppe Venuti at an Italian restaurant and Giuseppe Venuti does not order from the menu. Without even looking at the menu he has the chef come out and, after several minutes of intensely hilarious discussion and consultation, the courses of food are ordered to be prepared by the chef as agreed upon by he and Giuseppe Venuti. I was too young to really appreciate the meal but I could tell that Mom, Dad and Joe were having one helluva good time.

This is a wonderful album that I think you will have one helluva good time listening to it.


Frank Tate
Live in Belfast
Recorded November 1996
Released Vol.1 (2001) and Vol. 2 (2011) Nagel Heyer Records
Harry Allen (Saxophone) – Howard Alden (guitar) – Frank Tate (bass) – Dave McKenna (piano)- Butch Miles (drums)
Available amazon.com, iTunes, Nagel Heyer Records web site, etc.

One of my first Frank Tate experiences was when Frank drove us from the Cape to Boston for a Red Sox game (Dad as most of you know never had a driver’s license). In the back seat of Frank’s car were binoculars with the name tag Frank “Far Out” Tate (written I found out later by his girlfriend at the time). From that day forward my brother Doug and I referred to our wonderful friend as Frank “Far Out” Tate. It was Frank who took us to see the movie Star Wars when it first came out. Thanks Frank!

Frank Tate, of course, is a great bass player and was a big part of the Columns years on Cape Cod. From 1970 to 1976, the Columns Restaurant, owned and operated by Warren Maddows, was the place on Cape Cod for jazz—a magical place, particularly in the summer when the musicians played in a big tent and vacationing celebrities would come to dig the music. It was where you could go to hear Joe Venuti, Zoot Sims, Bobby Hackett, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Dick Johnson, Lou Colombo, Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Tony Bennett…and the house piano player, Dave McKenna. Frank for some time was the house bass player. During a Dave McKenna tribute many years ago celebrating Dad’s 50 years in the music business Frank gave a wonderful speech on how some musicians attended schools like Berklee and Julliard but Frank’s musical education was playing those summers at The Columns with Dave McKenna. It was a wonderful thing to say, “Far Out” in the best possible way, just like our friend Frank Tate.

These albums are tremendous, straight ahead, swinging Jazz recorded live at The Guinness Spot, Belfast, Ireland on November 7 & 8, 1996. Harry Allen to me incorporates some of the best qualities of Zoot Sims and Stan Getz into a sound uniquely his own (and he’s from Rhode Island, of course, just like Dad) and the rhythm section is impossibly solid. Dad and Howard sound so good together it makes me wish they had recorded together more. Dad takes a solo turn on Vol.1 playing  “Chinatown, My Chinatown,” and on vol.2 his solo is an absolutely gorgeous “Life is Better” (highly recommended). Vol. 2 also contains a rarity for Dad, a very special piano/bass duet with Frank on “September Song.” I could be wrong, but I think it may be the only Dave McKenna piano/bass duet on record. Right now Vol. 2 is only available to be downloaded and not available on CD. The sound quality on both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 is exceptional.  I am listening to Vol. 2 as I write this and I can tell you first hand it goes very well with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, but since it was recorded in Belfast I am sure a pint of Guinness will work just as well. Slainte!

Last, but not least, a Dave McKenna link:

I hope you enjoyed this little newsletter about my Dad, pianist Dave McKenna (May 30, 1930 – October 18, 2008). This is kind of a trial run and I am open to suggestions on how I can do a better job. I plan to do this on a semi-regular quarterly basis (whatever that means).  Pictures,  memories and stories to share are welcome!

Thank you and thanks always for listening,

Steve McKenna
PO Box 357
State College, PA 16868