[Dixielandjazz] Tony Spar or Tony Spair?

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 4 13:46:19 PDT 2009

Jim Butler and Listmates:

Tony Spar or Tony Spair, not sure of correct spelling, did indeed exist.

Perhaps this will shed some light on Trumpeter Tony Spar. (or "Spair")  
In 2007, the late Ed Metz wrote the below on the DJML and I added my 2  

Ed's note: Aug 2007 in response to a question about trumpeter Tony  

"Jim, be assured that Tony Spair did exist, although I believe this  
spelling is improper but phonetically correct. I remember well sitting  
in with the band that played at a place called the 'Paddock' in  
Trenton NJ in the 1950s. I was in college in Philadelphia and had a  
roommate (trombonist Marty Bergen) who came from Trenton with whom I  
would periodically spend the weekend usually because we had a gig in  
the area. Tony was a Phil Napoleon 'sound alike' - as a matter of  
fact, the Paddock house band was a 'Phil Napoleon at Nick's" sound  
alike band (we often snuck up to the village in NYC to catch the  
Napoleon band at Nicks, so we knew the sound. They had virtually all  
of the Napoleon arrangements down cold.

Angie, one of the owners of the Paddock played clarinet. Ellsworth  
Felton played trombone, Johnny bCoates Sr. played piano (he was a  
great stride player and father of John Coates Jr who is still playing  
around the Poconos). I don't recall the name of the drummer, although  
Artie Geidlin of Trenton sat in on occasion. I can't tell you anything  
about Phil Failla."

My note in reply was: Aug 29, 2007 was:

"Now that jogged a memory bank. Thanks Ed."

"I too remember that venue and band. Went there a few times with Jack  
Fine (trumpet) in the 50s. Remember Angie (but forgot his last name).  
Also remember Ellsworth Felton and of course, John Coates Sr., who was  
a great OKOM player."

"Met Angie again around 1990 when he came into the Temperence House in  
Newtown PA to hear Derf Nolde's Keystone Five, and I was playing one  
of my first gigs after a 30 year hiatus. We picked up where we left  
off when he said, 'You remember me Steve, I used to own that joint in  
Trenton where you sat in a few times, The Paddock.'"

"So many fine players in the area back then, including you, eh Ed?"

My own memory of Spar/Spair is dim, except that he was a Phil Napoleon  
clone. Like Ed, I often went to Nick's to hear Napoleon, even sitting  
in once with the band, and like Ed, knew the sound and knew that Spar/ 
Spair sounded just like Napoleon when I sat in with him in the band at  
The Paddock.

Also if you check Johnny Varro's web site, you will find "Tony Spair"  
listed with the Empire City Six, near the bottom of his discography,  
on recordings in 1957 and 1958. As Ed and I have noted, and I believe  
Varro will confirm, he did indeed exist. (And the Empire City Six  
clarinetist was indeed Davern, not Laverne which was simply a later  
spelling error as Bill Haesler has opined) See:


Steve Barbone

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