RESUME OF VINCE JAN founder and proprietor of the FINE RECORDING STUDIO, Rochester, NY
(pertaining to musical background)
Born: 1919, March 29, Vincent Giancursio
Today's Date: 1973, January 31
New Years Eve. Played first job. Age 12 (6 months after starting to play saxophone. Was big for my age. There was a shortage of musicians. My sax teacher got me to play at speakeasy, on State St., upstairs somewhere near New York Central Lines. Too young to remember where.
18th amendment repealed. Started to play at my father's restaurant. The Rainbow, Brown St. Played 4 nights
Still playing at Rainbow, but joined a young band called "The Collegiate Pals" later changed to "The Vikings". Played "Lombardo" style. Played Aljo club, Collegiate Club. First job with this band was at Meridian Club, Scottsville Road. Played Faotto Ballroom, University of Rochester dances, church dances, club dances and sponsored dances. Band did well because of our style. Also auditioned for Marigold and was to play but place failed.
Summer of '36 played open house dance in June at the University of Rochester. There were 10 different dance bands. One for each Fraternity House. One of the Fraternity Houses hired a new band coming up strong called Benny Goodman. The first time I heard him was there in person. Was extremely influenced by his music. Great studio band plus, plus, plus.
September 1936 was offered to play steady engagement at Odenbachs famous downtown restaurant. On week of offer, we were also offered to play in a restaurant hotel in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron, Ohio. We changed our name to Johnny Martone and his Orchestra. The band was an immediate "hit" in the area, mainly because of our first broadcast and our first night, which was a Saturday. Sunday was closed because of blue laws. And on Monday night the place was jammed, and every night thereafter until the summer of 1938.
Was also hired as a studio band by WADC Akron during last six months at Semlers Tavern. Band had bushels of fan mail because of extensive library of arrangements for their requests.
Went on tour, west. Played Denver, Colorado Rainbow Ballroom. Followed Harry James. Then to Turnpike Ballroom, Lincoln, Nebraska. Then the Music Box Ballroom, Omaha, Nebraska. Back to Ohio. Broke attendance records at Lantz's Merrygoround, 700 capacity restaurant. Jammed nightly. Played Buckeye Lake Ballroom, an Ohio resort. Also in the same room, Bunny Berigan was playing at the resort's second ballroom. Enjoyed his playing. Played many one night stands., including the Trianon Ballroom and the Statler Hotel in Cleveland, Crystal Beach Ballroom 20 miles from Cleveland. Dayton, Ohio again at Lantz's Merrygoround.
Played the Continental Grove, Akron, Ohio upstairs night club with revolving bar. People like style, packed them again. Broadcast until BMI went into effect. Had to broadcast only Stephen Foster tunes and other classics, in dance tempo.
Toured the East Coast. Boston, the Riverside Ballroom and many other places. Springfield, Mass., Crooked Lane Hotel Albany. Last job with this band was in Buffalo, NY at the Chez Ami. I wanted to stay close to home because I knew I was going to be drafted. Lsast job was an interesting close for our band. We were to start a month's engagement starting on Christmas Night, right after the Pearl Harbor attack. The place burned down on out opening night. That was our last job.
Drafted into USO unit in Plattsburgh Barracks NY. Played with big band and did the vocals for the band. All men were from New York City, except me. They all had advised me to go to NYC when the war was over. They said I had a "New York Tone" on my saxophone. There were only about five men in the nation with this type of tone. Naturally I felt good about it, because I love to play in a big band.
September, came back to Rochester with plans to stay here for a couple of weeks, then go to NYC. I was released from the services because my arches went bad. There was a shortage of musicians. Did not go to NYC because of the sadness of my mother. Took a job at Stromberg Carlson (amplifiers) because they had a big band there that played during the lunch hours. I was happy at that. Also played with a four piece group at the Times Square Supper Club.
Started playing at Brownies Marble on State Street. Was never happy because I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do, i.e. playing in NYC with a big band or even leading one if I had to. Started the recording business because, I reasoned, If I can't go to NYC then I will learn to record and someday I could send my band's recordings to NYC.
Went to Hollywood, California for Recording School. One year.
Played at Brownies again. Started my studio there, upstairs. Still sad because I was not playing in NYC. Recorded many groups. Bill Flanagan's big band, the late Billy "Fats" Hagan's songs, "The Barber Song" and many others. Len Hawley was a singer only at that time. I started Len Hawley in as a band leader. I was not interested in becoming a band leader here in Rochester because of the limitations here. It had all small places, the Ballrooms and Marigolds were gone.
Played in Geneva at The 86 Club. 8 piece band with some fine Rochester musicians. It was a great band. We used Len Hawley on vocals as a front man
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