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Tony Zano - Biography
Tony Zano

By Chet Williamson:

Anthony J. Ferrazzano, AKA Tony Zano
DOB: Worcester, June 4, 1937
DOD: January 11, 2001 (St. John’s Cemetery, Worcester.)

Parents: Joseph Ferrazzano and Mary A. (Mazzone). Family lived at 1 Lyon Street when he was born, later moved to East Central Street, and grew up at 4 Rena Street.
Instrument: Piano

Early education: Sacred Heart Academy and Commerce High School, where he was “class pianist.” *See: interview with Marie Lubell, Moe Carjulo, and Tony Ferris.

Higher education: NEC (1954-56), Boston Conservatory (1956-57), Boston University (1958-63), Forest Conservatory at Sussex University, Sussex, England (MusD., 1963).

Studied composition with William Tesson (1954), Roland Nadeau (1955), Walter Piston (1955), Margaret Mason (1955-56), Wei-Wing Lee (1956), Ruben Gregorian (1956-57), Francis Findlay (1959), Hugo Norden (1960-62). See: The Boston Composers Project: a bibliography of contemporary music (Boston Area Music Libraries).

Compositions: Concert in the Round Overture (1967) dedicated to Harry Levenson – first performed in Worcester on November 26, 1967 (score and parts in composer’s hand); Atonement for orchestra (1968); Evening Star (w/text by Edgar Alan Poe, 1968); Dispersion for jazz ensemble (1969); among many others. *See: Boston Composers Project.

Tunes: “Earthy,” “Mood Ballad,” “Bighead,” “Status Quo,” and “Wholesome,” “To a Certain Miss,” “Ballad for Dee,” “The Gathering Place,” “Loss,” “Restless,” “OK,” “Waltz,” “Walk for Happy,” “Buddy Blues,” “Urban Area,” “Happy Dreamers Lullaby,” “The Inn,” “Morning Chant,” “Sneakin’ On Through,” “Romantic Inclinations,” “Waltz for a Sleeping Princess,” “Semplice,” “Do You Hear It?” “Waltz for Jan,” “Market Madness,” and “Sweet Tears.” *See: http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Zano/tz-disc.php

Related activities: pianist, teacher, arranger, organized New England Trio (1966).
Awards: 1985, 1987, and 1991 Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts

Worcester teaching: Grafton High School, the Millbury public school system. *See Worcester T&G

Teaching and clinics: New York School of Music (1959), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1961), Schenectady Conservatory of Music (1966-67).

Students: Accordionist Mario Balestra, pianists Marguerite Delaney, and Irene Cooley.

Worcester playing experience: Ray Starr, Emil Haddad, Perry Conte, Moe Carjulo, and Tony Ferris. * See interviews with Carjulo and Ferris.

Playing experience: Ray McKinley, the Vagabonds (arranger), Cozy Cole, Snookie Lanson, Guy Mitchell, Fran Warren, Phil Bitro, Pepper Adams, Ted Brown, Lee Konitz, Teddy Kotick, Charlie Mariano, Hal McKusick, Toots Thielemans, Joe Hunt, Jon Wheatley, Alex Elin, Mitch Seidman. *See interviews with Ted Brown, Mitch Seidman, and Joe Hunt.

Accompanist for: Julius LaRosa, the Fontain Sisters, DeJohn Sisters, Pat Kirby, Edie Gorme, Monica Hatch, Julliette Willoughby, Cassandre McKinley, Leslie Robinson Sharp, Jean Parretta.

Touring and other highlights: Four appearances at Carnegie Hall. Staff pianist at RCA in New York City (1975-78).

Discography: The Gathering Place (Balmore), Everything Swings (Starmaker), In Retrospect (RCA/Mark), Instantaneous Excursions, Vol. I (RCA/Mark), Viva! Chief Crazy Horse, Renato “Mexie” Ocañez, Luz Records; Monica Hatch, Lady of Hearts. *See full Discography at: http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Zano/tz-disc.php

Publications: The Mechanics of Modern Music, published by Edizoni Berben, Ancona, Italy. (1973).

Press quotes: “Tony Zano, a pianist of exceptional taste and musicianship, has not received the national attention that many less talented performers enjoy … . A well-schooled musician, he has a rich harmonic conception, considerable technical facility and plenty of swing. Further, he uses the jazz language intelligently and gets a bright, penetrating sound from his instrument. A wealth of stimulating and delightfully unforced music is to be found in his music.” –Downbeat Magazine.

“Worcester sat up and took notice when Zano made his debut at Little Theater in September 28, 1958, with a 17-piece band of local players. – Raymond Morin, T&G

Zano quotes: “Jazz doesn’t belong in nightclubs, especially when it’s serious music, played by good musicians. People should be there to listen. There’s all that talking, drinking, distractions … if only people understood that the same things are happing in jazz as in ‘serious’ music.”

Gathering for Zano by Chet Williamson

A professional musician, teacher and composer for more than 40 years, Zano was largely unheralded in his lifetime. He was a jazz pianist nonpareil, who recorded and played with the likes of Lee Konitz, Hal McKusick, Pepper Adams, and performed at Carnegie Hall.

Zano was also a serious arranger, composer, and copyist. In addition to Big Band arranging, he wrote for choral groups, chamber ensembles and symphonic orchestras. Many of his scores are presented throughout the United States.
Zano grew up in a musical household in Worcester and began playing at the age of three. He was largely a self-taught pianist, who at a very early age would astonish family members by playing his older sister’s piano lessons by ear. His first professional work began at 12.  “I remember the leader painted a mustache on me because I was a minor,” he told writer Georgia Urban.

His father, Joseph, was a touring musician who played tenor saxophone and later ran a music store. His uncle, Tony Ferris, for whom he was named, led a Big Band in the area in the 1940s. Beginning at the age of 15, young Zano often worked with his uncle. *See: interview with Tony Ferris.

In his interview with Urban, he said, “In my early days, I played around Boston with many of the area’s outstanding musicians. Then I started doing some things in New York. The first gig I had in the city was with Gene Ammons, in the mid-‘50s, when he had an experimental big band. After that, I went on the road with Ray McKinley’s Glenn Miller-oriented orchestra, and later I worked in New York with Cozy Cole and Sol Yaged.”

He recorded numerous times in his life. His best known album is called The Gathering Place. Zano used the project as a vehicle to showcase both his writing and arranging, opting to sit out on piano. The chair was filled by the great Tommy Flanagan. Released in 1960, the rest of the big band ensemble features some the finest musicians of the era. The rhythm section was rounded out by bassist Paul Chambers, guitarist Sal Salvador, and drummer Charlie Persip.  *See:  http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Zano/tz-disc.php

While in New York he also worked extensively with saxophonist Hal McKusick, who is quoted in New York Newsday about Zano, stating: “He’s an original. Nobody plays like Tony; he’s got his own story to tell.”
Being from Worcester – the home of the Worcester Lunch Car Company – Zano was an avid enthusiast of this roadside attraction. Fellow musician Jim Chapin, once noted this about Zano’s affinity: “Tony’s a fan of diners. He eats at them, he takes photos of them. Tony had played so many one-nighters that he has bcome a collector of diners.” * It should be noted that his last home was a diner-shaped trailer.
In the last years of his life Zano had been residing in North Reading. He died in 2001 at 63. After a long battle with cancer, he passed away in a hospice residence in Worcester. In addition to his music, his fans, family and friends often recall his sense of humor, his quiet countenance and his love of dinners. Fortunately, Zano’s musical legacy is also well documented in the many recording he himself made and the precious live dates captured by others. *See: Marie Lubell, Joe Hunt, Ted Brown, and Mitch Seidman interviews.
“He was a great musician and an even great human being,” fellow jazz musician Paul Combs wrote at the time of Zano’s death. “He will be sorely missed by many of us working in the Greater Boston area. I still cannot quite believe that we will never again have the pleasure of his support on the bandstand or the comfort of his gentle spirit and the inspiration of his courage.” 


For more information on Tony and other Jazz Musicians please see Chet Williamson's Blog here.