Jazz Insights: Billy Lipson

Providence’s Billy Lipson, born in 1911, was blessed with a terrific jazz singing voice. Billy sang with several large orchestras in greater Providence.
His renditions often sounded like Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby. Billy had a loyal group of followers who regularly cheered him on, and many a local woman swooned over his romantic deliveries. His torch songs were a special happening for the whole family, and his wife and two sons were among his loyal fan base. Billy’s day job found him working on electricity for the New Haven Railroad.

After World War II, America’s popular music, including jazz, became an important element in the post-war happiness that surfaced here, in Rhode Island, and other parts of our country. Individuals like Billy Lipson performed to happy celebrations that were featured during those wonderful times.

Billy passed away in 1983, but many of his followers still remember him, and his special voice.

One of the Greats: Bob Mainelli is pitch perfect

One of Rhode Island’s finest local entertainers is Bob Mainelli.
He has performed for more parties, organizational events, civil and otherwise, private celebrations, small clubs, large clubs, restaurants, casinos, political happenings, weddings, funerals, bar-mitzvahs and probably hangings than most professional singers.

Bob taught music at Johnston High School for many years. His daughter, Jennifer has emulated his love for music, as well. Not only is he proud of her, but the two continue to perform together at many important happenings in the state. They are a terrific team.

Bob has been known for his high-quality professional voice. When he sings The Great American Song Book, his deliveries become perfect-pitch and romantic.

Although he has had personal physical problems for many years, he has forged ahead and kept his wonderful reputation at a high standard.  
Bob plays the keyboard often to supplement himself. Either with it or not, you still get his wonderful renditions of the best in jazz, and other art forms in music.

And yes, you might find him in Florida (during the winter) performing in restaurants and clubs.

We often see him working in the local casinos, or with his favorite buddy, super-pianist Mike Renzi. Rhode Island has been very lucky to have had many prior years from the voice of Bob Mainelli. He has built a large following of adult music fans who will go most anywhere Bob is scheduled to perform.

Keep your eyes opened to catch the Mainelli family performing, somewhere in the area.

Jazz Insights: Al DeAndrade

Rhode Island veteran trumpet player Al DeAndrade was born and raised in Pawtucket. His father, known as “Jim Daddy,” had a local orchestra and played alto saxophone and clarinet. Young Al began performing with his dad at age 9 on his horn. His brothers, Richard and Vincent, played saxophones with the orchestra, as well. Al was taught trumpet by veteran instructor, Howie Wintergrad.

After high school, Al went on to Rhode Island College and became a teacher. He taught elementary students in Central Falls. Al joined the Musicians Union and played for The Ralph Stuart Organization for many years, performing with them all along the Eastern Seaboard. On occasion he played with the famous Lester Lannin and Myer Davis high-society orchestras. His love for the big band and jazz arrangements became his lifetime passion.

Al continues to serve as Vice President of the Providence’s Musicians Union, since 1995. He is well known for Chairing, the Musicians Union’s on-going Cavalcade of Bands, which is regularly held at Rhodes-On-The-Pawtuxet. Now in his 80s, he continues to play his sweet-sounding trumpet, performing with sundry groups throughout Rhode Island.

Al DeAndre is truly listed among the many great musicians hailing from our special state.  

Jazz Insights: Oliver Shaw

Oliver Shaw was believed to be America’s first musical composer. He was born in Newport in 1779 (long before the Civil War). Following a childhood accident, and a bout with Yellow Fever, he became totally blind. Yet, he studied with the noted organist John Berhonhead and later with veteran society pianist Gottilieb Grauper.

Oliver Shaw began his long career in Boston and eventually returned to Providence. He wrote five volumes of his own music. It included all kinds of rhythm of that era. Much of his music was upbeat. Oliver wrote famous marches, waltzes and Polish polkas, which highlighted his career. His sacred music touched modern-day religious music, which eventually became incorporated into jazz.

He passed away late in 1848, and many of his original compositions are still played today.

Jazz Insights: David Wallis Reeves

David Wallis Reeves (1838-1900) was a professional cornettist, composer and bandleader. He was a leading horn player in the Dodworth Band in New York City and the American Brass Band in Providence.

David composed more than 100 works, and many had what today would be considered upbeat jazz passages. He developed a march-style and counter melody for the great military bandleader John Phillip Souza.Souza called him “The Father of Band Music in America.” Later, David Reeves founded The Providence Symphony Orchestra.

When he passed away in the year 1900, Souza sent 200 roses to his funeral.  
The State of Rhode Island built a marble fountain to memorialize him in Roger Williams Park.

Jazz Insights: Lilyan Lipson

Lilyan (“Lill”) Lipson was one of the last silent movie pianists in Rhode Island. Lill was one of eight children and grew up on the East Side of Providence. She and her two sisters learned piano on the old beaten upright spinet that took up space in the family second floor. Her skills elevated her to become a professional performer in the Providence area.\

At the peak of her career, she was employed playing for the silent movies throughout the city. She became well known for her jazzy upbeat piano renditions during the “flicks” at the old Majestic, the Strand, the Metropolitan, the Empire, the RKO Albee, the Olympia and the Windsor theaters.

Lill performed matinee and evening showings. Though the general admissions were five cents each, she worked seven days a week (including the matinees) and was paid a total of one dollar for the entire week’s performances.

She claimed that she would give 50 cents to her mother (to help support their large family) and used most of the remaining 50 cents buying several 2-cent hot fudge sundaes for her close friends (and an occasional boyfriend). Any remaining cents were banked, with her mother.
Lill passed away at age 86 at her retirement home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Jazz Insights: Bobby Leo Hackett

Robert (Bobby) Leo Hackett became one of the world’s finest cornet players.
Born in Providence in 1915, he created a soft, easy-listening and romantic sound that became unequaled, even today.

Early in his long career, he joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra and was hired by Benny Goodman to perform in his famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert.
Later, he did credible work with Eddie Condon and Jack Teagarden.
His most treasured work came with the Jack Gleason Orchestra, soloing on Gleason’s many romantic recorded albums, which are now highly collectible.

In later years, he toured with Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie and Teresa Brewer. He also performed with the Newport Jazz All-Star Band.

Bobby passed away in 1976, with heart failure.He had been inducted into the Rhode Island Musician’s Hall of Fame.

Jazz Insights: Artie Cabral

Artie Cabral has performed with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and even with the late Hollywood film star Mickey Rooney.

Growing up his father would take young Artie to hear many of the great Rhode Island big bands.  Artie began playing the drums. He became one of New England’s finest available drummer, performing at weddings, Bar-Mitzahs, funerals and private happenings.

Graduating from Providence’s Hope High School, Artie entered the US Army. He became a combat photographer, but also found his way into playing the drums with the Army band.

Returning from a stint in Germany, he rejoined the union and began his long-time relationship, as an accompanist, with the late pianist and promoter Mac Chrupcala, of Newport.

Artie spent more than five years with Tony Tomasso and his orchestra.
With the passing of his dear wife, he has moved to the VA Home in Bristol, where he continues to play on many local gigs.

Artie reflects his valued friendships with many of this country’s top musicians, including (U.S.Army Sargent), Dave Brubeck, Mike Renzi, and of course Mickey Rooney. His long association with the Rhode Island Musicians Union is well documented..

Jazz Insights: Sammy Sherman

In 1914 another of Woonsocket’s famous musical greats was born. 

Samuel (Sammy) Sherman began his musical career on the violin. He grew up and attended Providence College. Along the way, he switched to jazz trombone, and added his voice to his notable performances.

During World War II he served in the 16th Medical Regiment in North Africa and Italy. After the war he performed on cruise liners and worked with many famous individuals, groups and orchestras, including the big bands of Cy Coleman, Buddy Morrow and Sonny Durham.

He had four children, including the now famous Daryl Sherman, the New York based pianist, vocalist and cabaret specialist.

Sammy was known for his high trombone jazz sounds and musical humor.
He was a constant performer at John Chan’s Chinese Restaurant in downtown Woonsocket. Sammy Sherman passed away at age 89 in October 2003.

Jazz Insights: Irving Lipson

RI’s own Irving Lipson was known for his reed instrument performances throughout New England. He was born on PVD’s East Side in 1902. Irving played mostly tenor saxophone in his early years in several of Providence’s big bands. They performed regularly in Roger Williams Park, and Irving could often be seen soloing at the park’s popular bandstand.

On occasion, Irving would play gigs at Narragansett Race Track and Lincoln Downs with his younger brothers, George Lipson, who had become a veteran drummer, and Billy Lipson, who played harmonicas and sang. Their sister, Frances, would often sing with her talented brothers.

Irving is mostly known for his spectacular jazz solos on the saw. His saw performances brought him to the New England Finals, held in Manchester, New Hampshire. His famous waxed saw presentations procured the “Runner’s Up” trophy in 1961.

He passed away in 1969 at the age of 68, just after completing the Lipson Annual Family Weekend at Lincoln Woods.