[Dixielandjazz] Remembering Tony Sbarbaro

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 30 11:43:47 PST 2005

Paul, John, Dick, Bill & Listmates:

Paul Sbarbaro, Tony's grandson is looking for information about his famous
granddad. He wrote the following note, which I am answering and urge you to
answer also:

> Hurray the family name spelled correctly. I am ODJB'S Anthony Sbarbaro's
> grandson  Peter jr and after seeing many positive posts from you and others
> on the DJML on my grandfather on behalf of me and my father we thank you .
> what else do you know about my grandpa as i am tiring to document as much as
> possible as their is a lot of ODJB info but most is the same and if you
> could offer anything as i am embarrassed to ask my emails never make it; how
> do i archive that DJML list? is there an easy way to look around the site or
> am i dumb!! Any war stories would be greatly appreciated as my father is 75
> just heard a Phil Napoleon live at nicks album and it put a smile on his
> face. Did you meet him  or do you know any  other stories i would love to
> hear them as he would be 107 and not many people seem to know much about
> him. Did you see him play?- he died when i was 4 so i have no recollection;
> would you rank him as a good dixieland drummer or did dad tell too many war
> stories!. Thanks Peter  Sbarbaro Jr. ps my father  who was a producer and
> recorded buddy rich' count basie doc severonson perry como connie francis
> and many others passed away on march 8 th so i really feel the need to
> preserve the ODJB legacy and i found many more dixieland pictures which im
> sure i could share and wonder if  and hope the people could be identified- i
> live in northen nj about 2 hours from philly. Does your band play ODJB type
> stuff? Thanks for the comments as i educate my older sister on  her grandpa
> Tony Spargo Sbarbaro

Dear Paul:

I was sorry to hear that your dad passed away earlier this month. By the
same token, glad to hear that you are working on a family history, starting
with your Grand dad.

You can be sure that there is a large group of jazz lovers around the world
who knew who your Grand Dad was and admire his playing.

Was he a good drummer? Wow, to us young players just starting out, he was
the God of Drummers. Excellent, and there at the very beginnings of jazz. I
met him 50 or so years ago at Nick's and even sat in with the band (on
clarinet) and him on drums there a time or too. Fantastic.

He was also a neat man to be around. Pleasant and encouraging to young
wannabe jazz musos.

He also played a pretty good Kazoo, because as a drummer he never got to
play front line melody. At Nick's, there would always be a number where he
would play Kazoo. One time, the rest of the band, without him knowing it,
all brought kazoos. And when his kazoo number came up, they all whipped out
their kazoos and joined in. It was a wonderfully happy scene and thereafter
incorporated into the show at Nicks.

There are several friends (fellow musicians) of  mine that would be pleased
to provide more information about Tony. Please feel free to ask them about
how they knew and/or perceived him. Everybody I know who heard him, or
played with him marveled at his feel and ability to "drive" the band.

1) Dick Sherman who may be reached at: <sherm1931 at optonline.net> Dick is a
drummer, about 73 years old, who took lessons from your grand dad in the
1950s. Dick and I worked together frequently in the 1950s/60s. He is still
playing in NYC every Thursday, Noon to 1:30 PM or so at the Donnell Branch
of the NY public Library (on 53rd & 6th I think) ask him for the correct
address. That gig has been ongoing for 27 years. Jazz historian James
Lincoln Collier is frequently on that gig (trombone) and may have even more
information about Tony. It is Free and Dick is the distinguished bearded
gentleman behind the drums. Go visit them and ask about Tony. (copied Dick
on this email)

2) Chuck Traeger, no computer, but may be reached at Box 187, Yulan NY (not
too far from you) phone 845-557-6352. Chuck was the house bassist at Nicks
from the late 40s till the end and played with Tony maybe more than any
other living person. Sometimes with Phil Napoleon, or Billy Maxted, or Pee
Wee Erwin, or Billy Butterfield et al. He probably has a wealth of
information to share. Call him and arrange a visit. He is in his late 70s
and also one of my gig buddies from the 50s and 60s.

3) John Petters, is one of the UK's finest drummers and a great admirer of
Tony Sbarbaro. He was heavily influenced by your grand dad, and like many of
us, considers him to be an excellent, and much underrated drummer. He may be
reached at: <johnpetters at tiscali.co.uk>

4) Bill Haesler, is one of the most knowledgeable discographers of this
music genre in the world. He may well have a list of every record your Grand
dad is on, as well as other biographical information. He may well be able to
identify people in the old pictures. Bill Haesler, who lives in OZ
(Australia) may be reached at: <bhaesler at bigpond.net.au>

You may also wish to do a Google search for ODJB or Nick La Rocca Jr. This
is a current band fronted by Nick La Rocca's son and you know that his dad
was the leader of the first ODJB, and band mate of your Grand Dad when jazz
began. Jr,'s band is very much like the first one and he may also be able to
identify people in old pictures.

As for my band, yes, we play a style somewhat like ODJB, but more
modernized. Not to different to what you might have on record with Tony from
his days at Nick's. He also changed the way he played over the years, but
you could always here the great rhythm of early New Orleans Jazz coming
through loud and clear.

Check out my "schedule" at http://www.barbonestreet.com and come see us.
Call first (610-998-0431) to be sure of dates and times and band make-up.

Please contact the above, or if they are reading this, please contact Paul
Sbarbaro and share your memories of Tony.

Steve Barbone

PS. If memory serves me right, that first record of the ODJB in 1917, Livery
Stable Blues & Original Dixieland One Step sold over 250,000 copies which
was the most records ever sold of any music genre up till then. No doubt
that made your Grand Dad one of the most famous men in the world around that
time. (Bill Haesler would know for sure if that memory is accurate or not. 

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