Salvatore V Agosta – Tenor Saxophone
Arthur (Artie) Baker – Saxophone
Longin A Buinis – Violin
Robert E Curtis – Piano/Arranger/Copyist
Joseph F Eterno – Saxophone
Paul Litrenta – Trumpet
Vincent Zummo – Guitar
Abner Zwickel – Tenor Saxophone
Arthur (Artie) Baker
Arthur Baker, 89, a saxophonist, flutist and clarinetist, and an 802 member since 1937, died on March 25.
By age 14, Mr. Baker was already working in local bands in Massachusetts, where he was born. In 1936 he moved to New York City, where he met Charlie Shavers, Ben Webster, Cozy Cole and Lester Young, among others.
In the early 1940’s, he won an audition playing alto sax and clarinet in Artie Shaw’s band. He played with Les Robinson, Ray Coniff and Davey Tough. When Shaw dissolved his band due to World War II, Benny Goodman picked up Mr. Baker to play in his band. Mr. Baker also did studio work with Arturo Toscannini and the NBC Symphony.
In February 1942 he joined Charlie Spivak’s orchestra. Shortly thereafter he joined the staff of radio station WINS.
In 1943, the CBS bandleader Raymond Scott hired Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker played with him for more than two years. During that time, he also subbed in the Tommy Dorsey band.
After playing with Scott, Mr. Baker worked at WNEW, performing on the Lloyd Shaffer show. He backed up Perry Como at the Chesterfield Supper Club. Also around this time, Frank Sinatra hired Mr. Baker for record dates.
In 1948, Mr. Baker formed his own group, but by the 1950’s he was on staff at NBC. He played on the “Morning Show” with Dick Hyman, Mundell Lowe, Don Lamond and Will Bradley. He was one of the original members of the “Tonight Show” with Steve Allen, and remained on the staff at NBC well into the 1950’s.
For many years, Mr. Baker was Meyer Davis’ lead alto and clarinet player. He toured extensively with them, but eventually joined a rival band led by Lester Lanin.
In the last part of his musical life, Mr. Baker performed high-profile club dates and played with local jazz groups. He was the featured soloist at five presidential inaugurations and played for three New York City mayors. He was awarded a certificate in recognition for his continued support to the city.
At the end of his life, Mr. Baker was still performing, entertaining seniors at various senior centers in the city.
He is survived by his wife Lorraine, sister Eleanor Dennis, brother Ralph Lastumbo, son David, daughter Susan Surovic, grandsons Eric and Christopher, great-grandsons Mark and Eric Jr., and former wife Fredi.