It was only a few days ago, on October 2, that I posted a short tribute to Gallodoro on Mixed Media ("Jazz legend with Birmingham roots releases CD recorded here in 1969") and announced the release of his live CD, A Moment in Time, which was recorded at the Roma Country Club in Birmingham in 1969.
For more information on Gallodoro, and to read a lovely tribute to him written by Chmielowski, go to his website at http://www.algallodoro.com/. To learn more about the live CD, click on "See and hear Al," then on "discography."
I was able to conduct two extensive telephone interviews with Gallodoro this summer and am planning a feature article for The Birmingham Weekly, as well as further posts here at Mixed Media.
Gallodoro distinguished himself on saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet in a career that lasted 82 years. He was born in Chicago in 1913, but lived in Birmingham from 1918 to 1927. It was in Birmingham that he began playing music. He was only 13 years old when he appeared at the Lyric, the city's grandest vaudeville house, with a band called Romeo and His Juliets, along with the Romeo brothers, Frank and Alfred. He was only 14 when he went on the road for the first time, touring the Gulf Coast with a band led by Birmingham banjo player George Evans. Gallodoro lived in New Orleans from 1927 to 1933, playing in nightclubs, speakeasies, and the Orpheum Theatre vaudeville house before moving to New York City.
Celebrated for his ability to play both jazz and classical music, Gallodoro played with the great big-band leader Paul Whiteman. He was a member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, working with such famed conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stokowski. He played on radio countless times. He recorded eight CDs. He had music composed for him, most notably "The Gallodoro Serenade," written in 1958 by composer Ferde Grof'e8. He shared the stage with legendary musicians and entertainers, including George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Les Paul, Mario Lanza, Sid Caesar, Bob Hope and Milton Berle. He had a bit part as a street musician in Francis Coppola's Godfather II. He also had the distinction of giving private saxophone lessons to Harpo Marx in New York in 1934, in Harpo's luxurious suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Gallodoro was featured on the CBS TV program "Sunday Morning" in 2002 and was the subject of a short documentary film, The Al Gallodoro Story, in 1994. He received an honorary doctorate from Hartwick College in 2005 in recognition of a lifetime of performance and teaching.
Gallodoro was also one of the oldest professional musicians in the world who was still playing, recording and teaching. He celebrated his 95th birthday with a gig at the Sego Caf'e9 in Oneonta on June 20 and didn't play his last gig until September 20, at the Jazz and Harvest Festival in Corning, New York.
He is survived by daughters Mary Bruggeman, Joann Gallodoro, Alice Gallodoro, and brother Frank Gallodoro, sisters Frances Nyhan and Catherine Gagliano, as well as 18 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and 8 great-great grandchildren. One grandson, Kevin Wood, was Gallodoro's close friend and producer. He was preceded in death by his wife Mary, son Alfred, daughter Rita, sister Marie and brother Peter.
Gallodoro'92s brother Frank was also a saxophone player and worked in the Paul Whiteman orchestra with Al. In fact, with Al'92s death, Frank is now the only surviving member of that once-famous band.