Walter Burleson – Trombone
Tibor Cornell – Violin
Mel Davis – Trumpet/Conductor/Arranger
William A Desavouret – Piano
Leon Fiedler – Piano
Albert L Fiorillo Jr – Piano/Conductor
Massimo Freccia – Violin/Conductor
Joe Garbo – Accordion/Arranger/Copyist
Oscar Goldman – Violin
Ted Gompers – Bassoon
Wally Harper – Piano
Albert Harris – Piano/Orchestrator
Larry Kacer – Saxophone
Lenny Kaye – Saxophone
John E Nicholas III – Piano/Arranger
Nicholas Quercia – Guitar
Margaret Ross – Harp
Daniel Wolfsie – Trumpet/Conductor/Arranger
Walter Burleson, 97, a trombonist and violinist and an 802 member since 1937, died on Dec. 11.
Mr. Burleson was a member of the Pittsburgh Stanley Theatre house orchestra. He toured with the bands of Charlie Barnet, Charles Spivak, Cigar Ellis, Gray Gordon and Will Hudson among others.
Bunny Berigan chose Mr. Burleson to play trombone when he formed his first band to record on the Brunswick label.
He also performed studio work for Vaughn Monroe and on the Arthur Godfrey radio show.
Mr. Burleson is survived by his son Bruce, stepson William, grandchildren Beth, Amy, David, Joyce and Jo Ann, and great-grandchildren Kaitland, Patrick, William, Mary, Elisabeth and Arlene.
Mel Davis, 73, a trumpeter, pianist, arranger, violinist, drummer, tubaist, bassist, accordionist, vocalist and ocarina player, died on Dec. 28. He was a member of Local 802 since 1955.
As a young man in Philadelphia, Mr. Davis studied with Seymour Rosenfeld, the principal trumpeter with the Philadelphia Orchestra. After graduating from high school — he played club dates when he was 12 — he won a job playing with the St. Louis Symphonette. He also played in the summer in Florida with Meyer Davis.
After studying at the Curtis Institute and Temple and playing club dates on the side, he left for New York City in the mid-1950’s, where he landed the lead trumpet chair with the Benny Goodman band. He was on Goodman’s tour of the Far East in 1956.
Later he became one of the staff musicians at NBC. He played the “Tonight Show” with Doc Severinsen, and the Perry Como show. He also became a busy studio musician and recorded many jingles. He was the house trumpeter with Command Records.
Mr. Davis was among the early trumpeters in the “Sesame Street” band, where he played for more than 17 years. He appeared on many albums including Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin” and a tribute to Harry James, recorded with Lynn Roberts. He recorded his own albums including “Shoot the Trumpet Player” and “The Lease Breakers,” which was also the name of the band made up of himself, Buddy Morrow, Harvey Phillips, Tony Mottola and Sol Gubin.
He worked for Eddie Tone, a lifelong friend, on innumerable club dates at the El Dorado Country Club in New Rochelle and other places.
Mr. Davis performed with Tony Cabot at the cerebral palsy telethon every year with Johnny Frosk, Joe Bennett, Wayne Andre and others.
Mr. Davis became a jazz club owner, first in Baldwin (Long Island) and later Port Washington, where his place was called Rampart Street. There, he played trumpet and piano.
At the end of his life he retired in Florida.
He is survived by his wife Ruth and daughter Amy.
Massimo Freccia, 98, a conductor and violinist, and an 802 member since 1953, died on Nov. 16.
He was the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s musical director in the 1950’s and was a well-known figure in Baltimore’s musical and social scene for the six years he lived in the area.
Born in Florence, Italy, he grew up playing the violin with a group of friends. His father wanted him to became a lawyer, but he taught himself conducting instead. He spent time in Vienna and led orchestras in Budapest for three years.
In the early 1930’s he moved to Havana, Cuba, where he met and married his wife. While in Havana, Mr. Freccia befriended composer George Gershwin and frequently performed his compositions.
Arturo Toscanini, who led the NBC Symphony, invited Mr. Freccia to make his American debut in 1938, conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Lewisohn Stadium in New York.
He then became director of the New Orleans Symphony for eight seasons and in 1952 became conductor of the Baltimore Symphony.
While conducting in Baltimore in the fall, winter and spring, Mr. Freccia traveled throughout Europe in the summer. He was guest conductor with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1958 he announced he was leaving Baltimore and would return to Italy, where he became musical director for Radio Roma (RAI) and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra.
In 1960 he performed for Pope John XXIII in the Vatican. Mr. Freccia returned to Baltimore for guest-conducting spots in the 1960’s and for family visits in the 1970’s.
His last concert was in 1998 at the age of 92 when he conducted Beethoven’s Ninth in the square at Montepulciano, Italy.
He is survived by his wife Maria Luisa (Nena) Azpiazu, stepdaughter Maria Luisa Thomas, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
This obituary was edited from the one that appeared in the Baltimore Sun.
Oscar Goldman, 100, a violinist, violist, saxophonist and clarinetist, and an 802 member since 1936, died on Jan. 8.
He was born in Novagrudeck, Belarus. At age 5 he performed on the balalaika in the great hall of the local nobleman. In 1912 he and his family joined his father on the Lower East Side. There he studied violin at the Third Street Settlement House Music School. Though poor, the family purchased a piano. In 1919 his father died. Three weeks later his older brother, Abe, died in the flu epidemic of that year. Having no income, his family turned to the city’s Home Relief Program, but was denied support because his mother refused to sell their piano.
To keep the family afloat, Mr. Goldman became a professional musician, while an older sister, Ida, joined the needle trades, sewing piecework with their mother.
At a time when live music was in great demand, he played at public dances held on the Lower East Side. He played in Catskill hotels in the summers. He also accompanied silent movies and played in orchestras on ocean liners.
In 1929 he was admitted to the New York State Bar. Over the years his public life as a musician became more sporadic, though his music filled his home — violin duets with his son Robert, quartets with his friends. Later in life he played in the viola section of a regional symphony in New Jersey until his sight and hearing failed.
He is survived by his wife Esther Frances, daughter Sandra, son-in-law Alvin, grandchildren Rebecca, David, Daniel and Deborah Pearl, as well as seven great-grandchildren.
Ted Gompers, 95, a bassoonist and saxophonist and a member of Local 802 since 1926, died on Jan. 8.
Mr. Gompers was one of the New York’s busiest freelance woodwind players. He played for Radio City Music Hall, the “Show of Shows,” Jack Paar, the “Tonight Show” and many more as an NBC staff musician.
For over 50 years, Mr. Gompers was a first-call musician for studio work, live concert dates and Broadway shows, including “Hello Dolly,” “Peter Pan,” and Jackie Gleason’s “Take Me Along.” He worked and performed with Doc Severinsen, Eddie Caine, Ray Beckenstein, Tommy Newsom and Ray Crisara.
When he retired, he volunteered with the AA program and also Project Straight Life, a substance abuse program sponsored, in part, by Local 802.
Mr. Gompers is survived by his sons Gary, Robert and Gerald, 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by Mary Willey, the former wife of his deceased son, Stephen.
Albert Harris, 88, an orchestrator, composer and pianist, and a member of Local 802 since 1938, died on Jan. 14.
Mr. Harris was born in London and went to the United States in 1936. In 1942 he moved to Los Angeles where he lived until 1992 when he retired to New Zealand.
He studied piano from age 6 and was also a self-taught guitarist; his knowledge of this instrument enabled him in later years to compose pieces specifically for guitar. His “Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel” was recorded by Andres Segovia and his “Sonatina” was recorded by Laurindo Almeida. Carlos Barbosa Lima commissioned his “Concertino de California” for guitar and string quartet; in 1979, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. (It was released on CD in 1993 by Concord.)
While playing piano in big bands across the U.S. he began studying at New York University’s College of Music where he earned a doctorate in music in 1944.
Mr. Harris was for three years assistant music director at NBC’s Los Angeles studios. He was also the professor of orchestration at UCLA.
“Music Service Incorporated” (MSI) was formed by Mr. Harris and two colleagues (one of whom was Nelson Riddle) and was responsible for the music for four TV Shows: “Mary Tyler Moore — Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Ray Bolger Show,” “Danny Thomas Show,” and “Andy Griffith Show.”
He was music director for Barbra Streisand on the TV special “Barbra and Other Instruments,” music orchestrator and arranger for Cher’s album “Bittersweet Moonlight” and was music arranger for Roberta Flack for appearances in Hollywood.
Mr. Harris was the composer and conductor for Quinn Martin Productions, specifically “Cannon,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Streets of San Francisco” and “FBI.”
Over a period of 30 years, Mr. Harris was employed by all the major film studios as a renowned orchestrator and composer.
A popular teacher and lecturer in Los Angeles, he was invited to speak at the Santa Barbara Academy of the West by Darius Milhaud. While he was president of the American Society of Music Arrangers (a post he held from 1989-91), he co-lectured at a composer’s workshop with Henry Mancini.
He is survived by his wife Diane Harris and sister Bette Friedman.
Lenny Kaye, a saxophonist and an 802 member since 1937, died on Jan. 25.
He had a career that spanned 75 years, beginning as a child prodigy: he played saxophone on his own radio show when he was 9.
He later went on to play with Benny Goodman and then lead alto with Tommy Dorsey (from 1942-44). Mr. Kaye can be briefly seen with Goodman in the movie “Stagedoor Canteen.”
From 1945-46 he co-led the Kaye Brothers Orchestra with his brother Sid on drums.
For the next 45 years he was one of the most loved and respected musicians in the New York club date scene. He contracted and played for Lester Lanin, Roger Stanley, Mark Towers and Alex Donner. He also taught sax and clarinet to countless students over the years.
He is survived by his wife Sally, sister Linda Brace, and son Bob Kaye, who is also an 802 member. (Bob Kaye has set up a Web site where clips and photos of his father may be seen, at www.BobKaye.com/LennyKaye.html.)