Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Last Gig

A local bandleader passed away yesterday; he was 91 and started his first band when he was 11. The group for which he was best known, the Lee Vincent Orchestra, began in 1946 and played its last gig at his wake. At least, I think it was his group there.

But at his wake? Yeah, at his request. He wanted live music during the visiting hours.

This is a fellow who once played before Russian Marshall Gregori Zhukov, U.S. General Mark Clark and King Leopold of Belgium. He also played at the New York Stock Exchange (I remember an old song called, “Money, Money, Money,” but I’m not sure if it was the tune that day).

When singers came to town, local musicians provide the music. In this case, the call always went out for Lee and his orchestra. He backed Nat King Cole and, later, Natalie Cole; Frank Sinatra, Jr., Bobby Rydell, Danny Thomas, George Burns, Eddy Arnold, Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, the Four Aces, Marie Osmond, Rosemary Clooney and Aretha Franklin.

Along with (big secret) The Dorseys and Glenn Miller. Few bands travel as a unit; most of them bring their key players, the “book” and uniforms. Next time the Boston Pops comes to a concert hall near you, wave to your friends on the bandstand. Do the same with just about any big band; if someone up there looks like the local professional trumpet teacher, chances are he is. Lee Vincent’s group was there with the best of them.


Anonymous ruthc said...

Live music at a wake? What a great idea! Wish I'd thought of it first, but there's no reason the idea can't be borrowed.

December 13, 2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous MadDrummer said...

As a card carrying union member and long haired hippie drummer, I had many an occasion to bump into Lee during the late 60's-early 70's.

He was the consummate gentleman musician.

91, huh? Reminds me that I better see my Dad more often.

December 15, 2007 5:48 PM  

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