Santo Pecora

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The talented Santo Pecora accomplished a great deal during his career, including some versatile challenges that other players from the New Orleans jazz scene were either unable to meet, uninterested,…
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The talented Santo Pecora accomplished a great deal during his career, including some versatile challenges that other players from the New Orleans jazz scene were either unable to meet, uninterested, or both. Nonetheless even the relatively small segment of society impressed by such achievements would probably find the situation regarding this artist's name more fascinating, certainly more amusing. His real name was Santo Pecoraro--but so, however, was the name of his cousin who was born about four years later. Generously or maybe sensing an opportunity, the elder man trimmed his name slightly. The percussionist who got to keep the Santo Pecoraro monicker actually did work in a band with Pecora, the liason bearing discographical fruit in terms of several compilation tracks.

French horn was Pecora's first instrument, chosen as a child. In his teens he switched to trombone, an axe much more appropriate to the instrumental styles developing in New Orleans. Professionally he has said to have begun as a player in a the silent cinema orchestra pit, but he had already worked casually with bandleaders such as Johnny De Droit and Leon Roppolo. Vocalist Bea Palmer took the trombonist on a road tour in the early '20s and by the middle of that decade Pecora had teamed up with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Chicago and its fervid interest in the new jazz styles became an important destination for him, like many players from his geographical background, with additional theatre music work filling in the schedule.

During the '30s his course of action regarding employment was again similar to his peers on the national jazz scene as opposed to New Orleans stylists: he headed for the big bands. He did not abandon his musical homeground, however, bringing the Crescent City sounds to New York City with Sharky Bonano's aggregation in the mid '30s. Subsequently the trombonist set himself up on the west coast, his skills honed and ready for studio assignments. Collaborators from the stylistic good old days included the one-armed trumpeter and bandleader Wingy Manone. Pecora returned to New Orleans in the '40s, having evolved into a bandleader in his own right. He also kept working with Bonano, gigged on riverboats and was solidly cemented into a series of epic club residencies. In the '60s his spot of choice was The Dream Room.