George Zack

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With the title of his one solo release, Party Piano of the Roaring '20s, George Zack stakes a claim as one of the liveliest of the classic jazz pianists associated with the Chicago music scene. Zack was…
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With the title of his one solo release, Party Piano of the Roaring '20s, George Zack stakes a claim as one of the liveliest of the classic jazz pianists associated with the Chicago music scene. Zack was born in the Windy City and started out his performing career in a particularly newsworthy fashion as a member of a combo of youths making music while selling papers, the Chicago News Boys Band. Some four decades later he had relocated to the considerably more temperate climate of Tucson, AZ, but was still making regular trips back to Chicago for gigs. The pianist studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music subsequent to his newsboy days, then went on the road with Mush Oliver, a trombonist whose nickname suggests he utilized a dog team to make it from gig to gig. From there Zack moved to an outfit whose leader's surname strongly indicates a happy bandstand, Jimmie Joy.

Both of these were wide-ranging territory bands. Zack eventually made it back to Chicago, working for a lengthy period in an orchestra under the baton of Eddie Neibauer as well as developing a solo act that spotlighted vocalizing strongly influenced by Louis Armstrong. Muggsy Spanier put Zack on the piano chair in 1939, shortly before the latter decided to check out the Big Apple jazz scene. An illness unspecified in several biographical accounts truncated these activities in the early '40s. Zack bounced back into action by the middle of the decade, once again showing up in Chicago, where he held down a shadowy regular gig at the Club Silhouette. He also provided accompaniment for a series of vocal music performers. Zack went west in the '50s, working in Arizona into the ensuing decades with Dixieland players such as Ray Bauduc, Nappy Lamare, and Bob Scobey. This is not the same George Zack who is the former conductor of the Lexington Symphony Orchestra.