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Falcone returns to jazz roots

Former Sinatra pianist leads quartet Friday at 11th annual Jazz’N Caz festival

Syracuse native pianist Vincent Falcone will lead an all-star jazz quartet at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the 11th annual Jazz’N Caz festival at the Catherine Cummings Theatre, 16 Lincklaen St., in Cazenovia.

Syracuse native pianist Vincent Falcone will lead an all-star jazz quartet at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the 11th annual Jazz’N Caz festival at the Catherine Cummings Theatre, 16 Lincklaen St., in Cazenovia.

— In his marvelous musical memoir, “Frankly Just Between Us,” Falcone reminisced about playing Syracuse jazz clubs with groups such as the Tony Leonardi Trio in the early 1960s. At the start of that tumultuous decade, he dropped out of Syracuse University where he’d bumped heads with his know-it-all music professors.

“I just wanted to play piano and I wanted to make a few bucks,” he recalled in his 2005 book co-authored by Syracusan Bob Popyk. “To make it as a musician you need to play all kinds of places with all kinds of musicians,”

The word wasn’t yet in regular usage, but he knew he needed to network.

Even in sleepy Syracuse, Falcone found plenty of opportunity. “I had no lack of musicians to play with and places to play – places like the Coda, Luigi’s, Lorenzo’s with Bobby Doyle and Carl Mano, the Brown Jug, the Clover Club, the BelMar, the Casablanca, Drumlins (where we played jazz on Sundays), Three Rivers Inn owned by Dominick Bruno, jazz at the Dinkler Motor Inn, Soo-Lin American-Chinese Restaurant and Art’s Townhouse. To end the night we would often go to Poodles & Jim’s on North Salina Street for peppers and eggs at two o’clock in the morning.

“A lot of great musicians came out of Central New York. They included Chuck and Gap Mangione, Sal Nistico, Nick Brignola, Sam Noto, Sy Simpson, Danny D’Imperio, Jimmy Cavallo, Anna Marie Genovese, Calvin Custer, Tony Leonardi, Tony Riposo and many more.”

Much of the text of “Frankly Just Between Us” deals with Falcone’s lengthy stint as Frank Sinatra’s bandleader, hence the book’s title.

During his formative years in the Salt City, Falcone sold pianos for Clark Music by day while at night he often backed up the big stars at Three Rivers Inn, recording artists such as the McGuire Sisters, Steve & Eydie and a young Broadway star named Robert Goulet.

For info about “Frankly Just Between Us,” call 1-800-7-2852, or visit musicdispatch.com.

Russ Tarby is a contributing writer at Eagle Newspapers. He can be reached at russtarby@netscape.net.

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