Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Shining Trumpet of Eddie Patrowicz

By Chet Williamson

A parade of notable trumpeters have marched in and out of Worcester County over the years, namely Irving Peskin, Wendell Culley, Barney Price, Don Fagerquist, Ziggy Kelly, Emil Haddad and more recently, Jerry Sabatini and Bill Fanning, among others. A great player deserving wider recognition is Eddie Patrowicz.

In his illustrious career, his cornet and trumpet were heard in the company of such legendary figures as Leo Reisman, Eddie Duchin, George Gershwin, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman. His clarion call also sounded behind singers Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra. 

Petrowicz was born to Polish immigrants in Dudley on September 26, 1904. Largely self-taught, young Eddie was surrounded by music as a child. His father Frank, played the euphonium. His brother Stanley, played the trombone. They were a household of brass players and members of the Pulaski Brass Band, an organization that began in 1889. The popular group performed at social engagements throughout the southern New England region during the Patrowicz family tenure. 

Frank Patrowicz top row, third from the left, circa 1922
Frank, brother Stanley, and Eddie

By the time Eddie was in junior high school he was already helping the family’s collective income by playing in local orchestras. Appearing with one such ensemble at Beacon Park in Webster at the tender age of 16, Patrowicz would soon leave school to pursue music full-time.

“Unhappily I know little about my father’s life in his early formative years,” says son, Dr. Tully Patrowicz. “It was my understanding that he worked as a ‘bobbin boy’ in the Slater Mills in Webster. He completed two years of high school. Apparently at that time his affinity and talent with both cornet and primarily trumpet launched him into a full time career as a musician.”  

When asked if his father received any musical training, Tully says, “I am not sure what if any formal training my father had. I do clearly recall that he was devoted to daily practicing several hours using the Arban Book of Scales. I often asked him to play something recognizable, which would delight me. My favorites were ‘Carnival of Venice’ and ‘Napoli,’ which I first heard played by Red Nichols on 78 RPM records. I am under the impression that there was a lot of self-directed learning in those early years as the family was far from affluent.”

The Webster Times, 1920

In 1921 at 17, Eddie Patrowicz joined the Swan Serenaders, a Worcester-based band led by multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader, Einar Swan, who later gained fame and immortality as the author of the deathless torch song, “When Your Lover Has Gone.”

The Serenaders were essentially a teenage band, hell bent on playing the new music known as jazz. It’s not known how Patrowicz hooked up with the crew, but he was in the right place at the right time and evidently arrived with the right stuff. Early pictures of the group show Billy Conn as the trumpeter with the Serenaders, who would become a prominent local bandleader in this own right. 

The Swan Serenaders played together from 1922 to 1924. Webster, Dudley, Southbridge and other towns in Southern Massachusetts were their stomping grounds as well as Worcester. They also ventured beyond the confines of New England, appearing in Pennsylvania, New York and Florida. 

Their business card read: “Swanie’s Serenaders. Have played Keith and Poli’s Circuits – Our engagement – Your Success.” Playing the Keith and Poli circuits meant they performed in venues owned and operated by Benjamin Franklin Keith and Sylvester Zefferino Poli, who were two of the most prominent vaudeville promoters and theater agents in the country at the time.

In 1923, members of the Serenaders appeared under the name of the Palais Royal Players, which were affiliated with the Paul Whiteman Palais Royal Orchestra. Both bands took its name from the famous Palais Hotel, which was a large café and nightclub in Times Square in New York City.

In September of that year they received mention in the Norwalk Hour, a Connecticut daily newspaper. The headline read: “Night of the Big Dance of Craftsmen’s Quarry Will be Marked by Presence of the Palais Royal Orchestra in Pavilion.” The piece stated:  “Following their appearance here, the Palais Royal players will play for an Allington, Penn., syndicate. During the coming winter they will play at the Ormond Hotel, Fla. The orchestra is making a big hit on its stay here, especially the quartet selections.” 

Whether the name change was a marketing ploy by Keith or Poli is not known, but the band was essentially the Serenaders, consisting of Swan, who is listed as the saxophonist and leader with pianist Sam Swenson, violinist Julius Levinsky, drummer Ernest Pahl, bass horn player Oscar Werme, cornet and trumpeters Leon Kroll and Edward Patrowicz, trombonist George Trupe, and banjoist Joseph T. Toscano.

The dance was held at Roton Point in Norwalk, CT. The reviewer also noted that audiences at the venue were “listening to the best music in its history, is the consensus of opinion of all who have been attending the park since the Palais Royal Orchestra, Paul Whiteman’s unit came here. Everyone, including even those who do not dance but merely come to hear, says that manager Neville Bayley of the park should have had the players here earlier in the season. Much hope is being expressed that the players will be here next year.”

Einar Swan
A year later, Swan was off to New York to stay. In 1924 he was hired by Victor Lopez to play at the famous Roseland Gardens. Oscar Werme was enlisted into the ranks of Whiteman’s bands. Patrowicz would also join his bandmates in the Big Apple a few years later. He spent the next four years working with the Will Hardy Orchestra, a popular band that played to sellout crowds on Martha’s Vineyard.

Hardy was a songwriter from Worcester who wrote “Tivoli Girl,” a tune named after the Tivoli dance Hall in Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard. In her book, Martha’s Vineyard, Bonnie Stacy said Hardy wrote the song to capitalize on the popularity of the dance hall. Originally called the Cottage City Casino it opened in 1901 and closed in 1964. It had the distinction of housing the Flying Horses Carousel, which was moved to the Vineyard from Coney Island in 1884.

In their book, Music on Martha’s Vineyard: A History of Harmony authors Thomas Dresser and Jerold Muskin described the dance hall: “Easily identified by two towers, one at either end, the Tivoli was a large wooden structure, painted yellow. The second floor ballroom opened up onto a wide veranda, which allowed dance music to flow outside.”

The authors also mention Will Hardy, taking quotes from the Vineyard Gazette and Railton’s History of Martha’s Vineyard. “In the 1930s some of the nation’s best-known dance bands entertained in brief stands on weekends, but it was Will Hardy’s sextet that created the magic of the Tivoli. You didn’t have to dance to feel the Tivoli magic. Thousands were enthralled by the music as they strolled along Circuit Avenue. Band leader and composer Will Hardy ran the Tivoli ballroom from 1915 to 1931. Hardy’s “endearing, all-time favorite ‘Tivoli Girl’ is evocative of the era.”

In addition to running what has been described as a “Novelty Orchestra,” Hardy was the publisher of the weekly sheet music serial called The Musical Visitor. The bandleader wrote and published a variety of songs. “Tivoli Girl” dates from 1917, but was an endearing and popular song for islanders for many years. It was certainly in the band’s repertoire when Patrowicz worked with Hardy.

The next band of note that Patrowicz hitched his horn with was the legendary Eddie Duchin. Born in Cambridge in 1909, the pianist intended to be a pharmacist. In fact, he was a graduate of Mass College of Pharmacy, who financed his studies by playing with his campus orchestra.

Duchin at the piano
At 21, Duchin was leading his own band, playing professionally around Boston. Patrowicz may or may not have played in this band. According to the Pittsburgh Press, soon after obtaining his degree, Duchin took a job with Leo Reisman at the old Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. “At the end of the season, Mr. Duchin formed his own orchestra. Success came almost immediately.”

This is more likely, where Patrowicz worked with Duchin, which eventually led to the trumpeter becoming a longtime member of the Reisman orchestra. Patrowicz’ son, Tully recalls many conversations with his father about his musical career. “With regard to dad's association with Eddy Duchin, he had said that he was a roommate with Eddy Duchin. However, I really never knew more of their relationship or what the time frame was. It is my impression that Leo Reisman brought Eddy Duchin to NYC'S Central Park Casino but subsequently Duchin left Reisman to form his own Eddy Duchin Orchestra.

Central Park Casino, New York, New York
“Whether or not my father was in Eddy Duchin's Orchestra full time or freelance or at all I can't be sure. Apparently from a brief review of the tomes of Brian Rust's American Dance Band Discography 1917-42, it appears that Eddie Duchin in 1929 was recording on the Victor label as Leo Reisman's pianist.”

Acccording to Karl Reisman, Leo’s son, his father moved to New York in 1928 to open Mayor Jimmy Walker’s Casino in Central Park at 72nd St. and Fifth Avenue. “With him he took a young piano player introduced by his wife’s sister Frieda (later Elsa) who was dating him. His name was Eddy Duchin. In New York at the Casino there were two rooms. Reisman was in one and in the other Emil Coleman was making a hit with his piano playing. So Leo started featuring Eddy Duchin in his arrangements.”

As mentioned, a year later, Duchin struck out on his own and later in the 1930s would even take over the Casino band, keeping many of the songs and arrangements.

Ophthalmologist Tully Patrowicz was born in Flushing, Long Island, NY in 1932. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, he, said ''I think when you grow up in New York, you are bound to be a part of the arts.” The Patrowicz family music tradition already well-established by Tully's parents (his mother Beatrice Lufkin Patrowicz a student of piano) thought it natural that their son would discover that piano studies are a basis for understanding music's many wonders. Tully now bemoans, "I live with my father's words to this very moment: ‘You will be sorry someday that you didn't practice.’ What my father didn't say is that I would be sorry every day.”

However, all was not lost on Tully. He states that, "not only was there the influence of my parents but also there was that of the many musicians in our Long Island neighborhood that ensured that I would gain a deep-felt appreciation for music and all fine arts for which I will remain eternally grateful.”

Tully says that Eddy Duchin is not mentioned as Reisman's pianist in the discography reference after 1930-31. He also notes that his father didn’t appear with Reisman on record until a few years later. “My father first came on the Brunswick label recording scene as Reisman's first trumpet on March 15, 1934 according to the discography reference,” he says. Which means, Patrowicz may have worked with Duchin during the period of 1929 to 1934.

Patrowicz, back row, third from left
Leo Reisman
Reisman was born in Boston in 1897 and according to the Songwriters Hall of Fame “began studying the violin at age ten and by his early teens was performing with hotel bands and in 1919 formed his own band.”

Jerome Kern dubbed Reisman’s orchestra, “The String Quartet of Dance Bands.” In addition to Duchin, his ensembles featured such pianists Harold Arlen, Nat Brandywynne and Johnny Green. His vocalists included Fred Astaire, Lee Wiley and Dinah Shore.

The Hall of Fame noted that from “1921 through 1941, the Reisman Orchestra recorded nearly 80 hits on the pop charts including the #1 recordings of ‘The Wedding of the Painted Doll’ (1929), ‘Paradise’ (1932), ‘Night and Day’ (1932), ‘Stormy Weather’ (1933) and ‘The Continental (You Kiss While You’re Dancing)’ (1934).”

Reisman orchestra, 1937
Patrowicz followed such notable trumpeters as Johnny Dunn, Bubber Miley and Max Kaminsky with Reisman. Dunn was considered the king of New York jazz cornet players in the 1920s. Miley, who followed Dunn in Mamie Smith’s band, was also a soloist with Duke Ellington. His tenure was 1930-31. Brockton born Max Kaminsky is a legendary figure of the New England traditional jazz scene.

Reisman orchestra
It could be argued that the years Patrowicz spent with Reisman were his glory years in the music business. He recorded, traveled extensively, and played in the company of some the most famous musicians and singers of the day with the bandleader.

“I do remember that dad traveled with Reisman's Orchestra to France & Monaco by passenger liner before WW II hostilities began,” Tully says. “I also remember that dad was with Leo Reisman seated as first trumpet for many years during the 1940s, during which time the orchestra's primary full-time venue was NYC's Saint Regis Hotel, a venue for the enjoyment of many of the world's celebrities.

The history books and various discographies only report Patrowicz as having recorded less than a dozen sides with Reisman, but given the years with the orchestra, the trumpeter may be incorrectly documented. Tully explains: “The discography reference is not clear as later references for Reisman's first trumpet may still be my father under the alias of Frank Petrilli.”

"The String Quartet of Dance Bands"
According to the November 6, 1975 edition of the Worcester Telegram, Patrowicz traveled extensively throughout this country, Europe and South America and associated with “some of the biggest names in the music business, including Arturo Toscanni, who was director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, Russ Columbo, Eddie Duchin, Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, George Gershwin and Tommy Dorsey.”

One of the Gershwin performances happened in Worcester. From the book George Gershwin: His Life and Work by Howard Pollack, the author writes, “To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin and Harry Askins, the theater manager who introduced him to Max Drefus in 1917, launched an extensive 1934 road tour featuring the composer and the Leo Reisman Orchestra performing not only the Rhapsody but a new work composed specifically for the occasion, the Variations on “I Got Rhythm” for piano and orchestra.”

The Telegram also reported that Patrowicz played in “musical movies, on radio and in vaudeville. He played in the White House during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. He played trumpet behind many vocalists including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.”

“After the Reisman years were over,” Tully says, “much of my father's work was freelance on Broadway, with the NBC Symphony, Cruise Ships (notably the SS United States), playing for the United States Merchant Marine Academy Reviews at King's Point, Long Island and at  private teaching."

In 1964, at the age of 60, Eddie and his wife, Beatrice moved back to his hometown of Dudley. “He loved the area,” says Joanne Gagnon, Eddie’s niece. “He loved the hills around here. He and his wife returned to the area. They built a home on Dudley Hill not far from Nichols College, ran their little Gift Shop in Quinebaug, CT while Uncle Eddie taught music."

Patrowicz continued to play music professionally. He led a band called the Villagers that played regularly at the Colonial Restaurant in Webster and worked in Ray Stone’s Big Band at the Stateline Casino.

Now 85, Gagnon recalls her uncle fondly. “I thought the world of him,” she says. “If he played the Colony, my husband and I would go for dinner and a dance. I was proud of him. I saw him many times. He kept playing. He used to say, ‘I want to keep my lip up.’”

In the last four years of his life, Patrowicz and his group Eddie’s Trio, were featured weekly at the Publick House in Sturbridge. He also continued teaching privately and one day a week at Annhurst College in Woodstock Conn.

“As a child growing up in a musical family it was apparent that my father’s whole professional life and dedication was to music and the joy it brought others,” Tully says. “As a seasoned musician, he was fortunate to have traveled widely and to have played and performed with many wonderful colleagues and orchestras both popular and classical.”

On November 5, 1975, Edward F. “Eddie” Patrowicz died at Hubbard Regional Hospital after a brief illness. He was 71.

“Although I will never know all about my dear father, I do know that his kindness, warm humor and smile -- and most of all -- his love of life, family, music and musicianship have provided a legacy that all of our family can be proud of for all of the many years to come,” Tully says.

Note: Special thanks to Dr. Tully Patrowicz, Joanne Gagnon, and Carla Manzi for their assistance.

This is a work in progress. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are always welcome at: Also see:  Thank you.





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