December 11, 2008
Al Galladoro, a master of the clarinet and saxophone, passed this week at the age of 95.
Born in Chicago in 1913, the son of an immigrant, Galladoro picked up his father’s clarinet when he was 5, and by the time he was 14, Galladoro had embarked on an 9-decade career that took him first to New Orleans and then to New York City.
Galladoro thrived in an era when music was performed live on stage or broadcast live into homes over the radio, creating a unique style blending jazz and classical.
He played in vaudeville houses and speakeasies, night clubs and symphonies, Carnegie Hall and international jazz festivals. His longest association (nearly four decades) was with the “King of Jazz” Paul Whiteman, where Gallodoro played lead 1st alto sax, as well as clarinet and bass clarinet for the orchestra, leading to his nickname of “Triple Threat”.
Galladoro joined the Paul Whiteman Band at the age of 23; played for the “Chesterfield Cigarette Hour” with Bing Crosby; performed the clarinet soundtrack for the movie “Rhapsody in Blue”; and was a member of the NBC Symphony under the leadership of Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stowkowski; among many other accomplishments.
In fact, he holds the world record for the most performances of the clarinet slide of “Rhapsody in Blue” - more than 10,000 times.
Later in life, after the passing of his wife died and the music industry had greatly changed, Gallodoro moved to rural Oneonta in upstate New York, but he continued to play. In fact, “It seemed the older he was getting, the more popular he was getting,” said his manager, JoAnn Chmielowski.
ProSoundWeb Senior Sales Manager Mark Shemet, who’s also still active as a drummer, had the pleasure of a few performances in support of Galladoro.
“My favorite was backing him on ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’. He was playing faster than we all could, and it was tough to keep up,” Shemet recalls. “He was also sweet guy, so full of life, and worthy of our praise.”