This trumpeter, bandleader, disc jockey, and just all-around champion of New Orleans jazz comes from the Italian side of that city's musical equation. With a major wave of Italian immigration in Louisiana occurring between 1900 and 1920, the same two decades in which the city's jazz scene literally exploded, it is only logical that many Italians became as involved in swinging music as flipping pizzas. Italians were nightclub managers as well as musicians, in either case defying many of the segregation laws on the books as blacks and whites came together both as players and audiences. Almerico was part of the important frontl ine of Italian jazz players, a list that also includes fellow cornet men Joseph Bonano and Peter Lacaze and trombonists Giuseppe Alessandra and Baroque Dominic. Almerico began his musical studies in Jesuit high school, and professionally cut his teeth on the dime-a-dance scene. He began leading his first band in 1936, following nearly a decade of intense sideman work. This included groups such as Slim Lamar & His Southerners, which recorded for Victor in both Memphis, TN and Camden, NJ in the late '20s, and Mart Britt & His Orchestra, the brainchild of a multi-instrumentalist bandleader. Britt, who played banjo, bass, and drums, proved himself fearless in a 1932 Atlanta Victor recording session, daring to ask both the musical questions "Who Paid Poker with Pocahontas (When John Smith Went Away?)" and "Who Paid the Rent for Mrs. Rip Van Winkle (When Rip Van Winkle Went Away?)".
On record, jazz listeners inevitably are introduced to Almerico via his recordings with classic blues goddess Lizzie Miles. But in addition, Almerico's own bands and various pick-up all-star bands cut a variety of sides over the years for labels such as Imperial, Viking, and Dot. The excellent Cook label has in its catalog both Miles material featuring Almerico and several volumes of the trumpeter's own band enjoying a Clambake on Bourbon Street. Another pair of volumes on which the trumpeter participates are entitled Benefit Night for Monk Hazel: Parisian Room, and feature some of the earliest recordings of the well-known New Orleans clarinetist Pete Fountain. Other Almerico band recordings feature him in the company of greats such as the spiritual trombonist Santo Pecora, the cuddly pianist Armand Hug, the fit trumpeter Slim Lamar, and the protective clarinetist Harry Shields.
In one way, Almerico can be considered to have done all of these peers one better, as well as many other veterans of this city's scene. It is hard to come up with an example of a more tireless promoter of the city's jazz style. By the mid-'50s Almerico had developed a second career as a nationally broadcast disc jockey. His radio show was featured on WJMR, also the home of the illustrious host Poppa Stoppa, and one of the city's great broadcast outlets until, eventually, it was watered down into a CNN outlet. Even as a member of a band as casual as the Dixieland Jazz All-Stars, Almerico finds a way to elevate the possibilities of the occasion. The group's long-running gig at the Parisian Room developed into both a seminar and launching pad, as Almerico created the proposition of a "junior" band that would hold forth between breaks, thus encouraging important younger players such as Connie Jones and Charlie May. Almerico's 11-piece band, often featured on shipboard dance cruises up the Mississippi, also has a superb reputation. Vocal talent featured in his groups include the Ryan Sisters, Sue Miller, and Molly Duncan.