Joe Tarto

Biography by Scott Yanow

+ Follow Artist

A collector's album in the 1980s humorously billed Joe Tarto as "Titan of the Tuba." Although Tarto was often the least-known musician on many of the recordings he appeared on in the 1920s, his fellow…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by Scott Yanow

A collector's album in the 1980s humorously billed Joe Tarto as "Titan of the Tuba." Although Tarto was often the least-known musician on many of the recordings he appeared on in the 1920s, his fellow musicians certainly recognized his talents. Tarto played trombone when he was 12 but soon switched to tuba. He was in the Army during World War I (having given a false age), and played tuba in an Army band. After being wounded and recovering, he was discharged in 1919. Following a period working a day job, Tarto became a full-time musician in October 1920. He toured with Cliff Edwards, was with Paul Specht's Band (1922-1924), played with the orchestras of Sam Lanin and Vincent Lopez, worked in Broadway shows and arranged for Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson. Tarto extensively recorded in the '20s (although never as a leader) including with Joe Venuti, Red Nichols, Miff Mole, the Dorsey Brothers, Bix Beiderbecke, Phil Napoleon, Eddie Lang, Ethel Waters, the Boswell Sisters, and Bing Crosby, among many others. After two years with Roger Wolfe Kahn's Orchestra, Tarto became a studio musician in the '30s, doubling on string bass and working with symphony orchestras, on radio and in the theaters. Joe Tarto occasionally played jazz in his later years (mostly Dixieland) and he led the New Jersey Dixieland Brass Quintet in the '70s and '80s.