Monday, February 20, 2012

The Alabama Syncopators

[Click for a much larger view.]

In November 2006 I wrote a post about a little piece of ephemera in my possession, an invitation to a 1927 Chicago dance. (That post is still one of my favorites.) Back then I could find no information about the orchestra hired for the dance, A. Pellegrino and His Original Alabama Syncopators. But I just did, on a page from the Chicago newspaper the Suburban Economist, May 13, 1925:
There are few dance orchestras more “zippy” than this one, to be at WBCN about 11:45 o’clock Thursday night, and which is shortly to take to the stage for a few weeks. While these boys, who travel under the name of the Alabama Syncopators, have been heard before from WBCN, their last appearance was several months ago and many who heard them may have forgotten their unusually “dancy” tempo. From left to right, those in the photo are: Pasquale Venuso, trombone; Frank Martello, trap drums; Joseph Pellegrino, cornet; Edward Kapek, piano; Anthony Pellegrino, saxophone and clarinet (director); Nicholas Pellegrino, saxophone and clarinet; James Tarentino, banjo.
The Social Security Death Index lists just one Edward Kapek (1901–1985) and one Pasquale Venuso (1907–1979). There’s a Frank Martello (1905–1976) whose last residence was in Chicago, and an Anthony Pellegrino (1902–1979) and a Nicholas Pellgrino (1906–1970) whose last residences were in Illinois.

Looking at the faces in this photograph, particularly those of Martello and Venuso, I see a group of kids, really — school friends perhaps? — all together on an adventure in music. I wonder how long it lasted.

[This journey into the past has been brought to you by the Internets. The Internets: making the past present for the future.]

comments: 4

"Welcome to my Parlor" said the Spider to the Fly said...

Dear Michael,

Pasquale Venuso was my grandfather. It was so exciting to see that you had blogged about this band from so long ago! I posted this on facebook (hope you don't mind)..Wanted my children to see it :)...You can contact me if you like at My father still has that original picture on his wall of the band! Take care. Michelle

Michael Leddy said...

Michelle, I’m thrilled to learn that you and your father have seen this post. I wondered of course whether someone from one of the musicians’ families would.

I’ll write more by e-mail.

seekingalonso said...

Greetings! I just found my grandmothers dance card from a 1925 fraternity party with a 1.50 admission card for the Alabama Syncopators Friday night in 1922 thought I would share thanks for posting

Michael Leddy said...

I’m happy that the Syncopators keep finding an audience here. If you post your grandmother’s dance card, please let me know. I’d be happy to link to it.