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Bob Cary was born in Providence, Rhode Island . A professional trumpet player since 1956 with his first job playing shows at the Blue Moon Café in Newport Rhode Island at 16 years. “I did other jobs before that but I can’t remember. I think I played at the NCO Club on Quonset Point Navel Air Station and a few weddings, etc.” 

The first music Bob Cary heard was, “I remember when I must have been only a very small boy, coming out, after a movie, at the Narragansett Casino Theater in Narragansett Pier. The back alley was the main entrance, weird, and I was holding my fathers hand when I heard something that sounded like car horns. A women rushed by and my father asked her, ‘What’s going on?’ Her replay was, word for word, ‘Haven’t you heard. Stan Kenton’s here. “The back of the theatre was next to the Narragansett Casino Ballroom, which burnt down a few years later. I’ve been trying to pin down the exact date. Talked with a few Kenton discographers. The only thing confirming the date is, everybody agrees the band was in New England but have no record of where. Guess I’ll never know.”


The Cary family spent the summers at Roy Carpenter’s Beach, a small community of makeshift cottages, trailers and tents. Next to the beach area was a summer stock theater called, The Theater-By-The-Sea. Bob, around the late 1940’s and early 50’s, worked there cleaning up the papers, coke bottles and other debris around the outside of the theater along with empting waste baskets and vacuuming the theater rugs. “I loved watching them make the scenery and props for the shows.” This was a small summer stock theater where many famous stars were booked in the every week “We used to sneak in the side door and see the plays during the matinees. I cleaned that theater 9 times a week for $5. They had shows 6 nights a week with 3 matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.”

“I got my first taste of show business when they needed a child for a few lines or walk on parts. Not a lot of times but, they would  say, “Hey. Get the kid outside that cleans the house.” So….I got to be on stage with the likes of Marlon Brando, James Dunn, Farley Granger, Basil Rathbourne, Veronica Lake, Dagmar. I even had the pleasure to see May West, who drove up to the theatre, took one look, then turned her car around and, headed back to New York.” My brief career ended when I sat on Dagmars lap. Yeah!  “In those days, we use to collect lots of autographs. Every body had an autograph book. We would all wait around the theatre when a new star was about to arrive.”


Around 1955/6, Bob was an usher at the Majestic Theater in Providence. The fireman at that time was Dan Valadon, an old vaudeville star. “I listened to his stories and have composed a small book report on his life. He taught me to walk a slack rope, which was more difficult than a tight rope. Dan encouraged me very much. I did see all the movies for free, but I saw them 50 or 60 times, not to mention getting into many fights in the balcony. One time I landed outside the side door of the theater. The door closed behind me and I had to come around to the front to get back in. The ticket attendance asked, ‘How the hell did you get out here. Hope you have a ticket?... Sir."

Bob spent many hours listening to the radio while growing up in his Warwick, Rhode Island home. “I knew all the disc-jockeys theme songs. In those days, the DJs picked their own music. No play list. They all had personalities and you would listen to your favorite DJ for more than the music.”  Bob grew to love radio and has said many times it was his first love. Names like Jim Mendes, Ted Medcalf, Sumner Pearl, Carl Henry, Ken Garland, Chuck Stevens were all his heros. Ernie Anderson, who later was always introduced on the Carol Bennett TV Show from the audience, he was on WHIM in Providence at that time.


With his brother Ray, they built two small 4 watt AM radio stations. “Mine was WKEN and on the second floor while my brother Ray was WNES in the basement of the house. Ray had a friend, “Buzzy”, who also had another station a few streets away.”  “The stations only broadcasted a few houses away so, we must have spent hours broadcasting show after show while, most likely, nobody listened. It was fun and introduced me to music.. My brother played Perry Como while I spun Benny Goodman.  “When I heard Harry James, radio now took a second spot in my life.” Bob did host a radio program in Providence called, “Dimensions in Jazz” over WLOV-FM for about a year. His brother Ray initially had the show and tired if it, so he offered it to Bob.


Over the years Bob has hosted many radio shows and has been a guest and interviewed many times. In Canada, he, on occasion, co-hosted as special guest host for, “Sweet, Swing and Jazz” with Jack Dawson over CJQR-FM and CKTB. He was interviewed over CBC national radio networks “Fresh Air” program. “Radio is still my first love.” Bob Says. "I would return back to Toronto after a tour and Jim Paulson, who had a voice I'd kill for, would call me and interview me over the telephone on the radio while I was sitting at my kitchen table 10 miles away."


On Christmas 1947, Bob was presented with a trumpet. “I shed tears of joy. It was an American Triumph model horn. Not the best but…..a trumpet”  So Bob practiced even to this present day, he’s still practicing. "I'll get it right some day." In 1948, Bob started trumpet lessons with Edward Denish, a turn-of-the-century [1800-1900] cornet soloist who studied with the world’s champion, Bowen R. Church. Ed Denish would be Bob’s only teacher for the next 10 years. Experience were the next teachers.  Another former student of Ed Denish was, Art Tancredi. Art had been playing for Frankie Carle, Horace Height and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra during the early 1950s. He was with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra when both died 6 months apart from each other in 1956 and 57. After that, Art returned to Providence and formed The Art Tancredi Orchestra which won the number one dance band for the New England area 3 years in a row. The only 3 years of the contest sponsored by the AFM, Musicians Union.  “I didn’t know Art at that time, but I read in the Providence Journal, an ad for the Rocky Point Palladium. [1958] Art Tancredi, his trumpet and his Orchestra. I gassed up my 1955 Desoto and spent the entire night sitting in the back of the ballroom listening to Art’s beautiful trumpet in front of a well-rehearsed orchestra playing special arrangements by Benny Patience designed for Art. In Providence?….this was as good a band as any band in the country and he provied it by winning those three contest."

The winners nationally were Claude Gordon and Jimmy Cook.
Art was a big influence on Bob and he was at every Art Tancredi performance. “We became close friends and I would spent hours with Art talking and drinking coffee at his home in Warwick into the wee hours of the morning until eventually Ruth, his wife would put an end to it sometime around 3 or 4 AM.”  Other trumpet players captured Bob’s attention. Harry James of course. Randy Brook’s records were few and rare but he had them all. During the middle to late 50’s Bob collected 4 albums by Luis Arcaraz and his Orchestra. The trumpet solos on those albums were wonderful and what Bob was looking for. It was Conrad Gozzo, not playing lead like he’s famous for, but playing solos. Don Palladino also performed a few solos on those records. “Playing trumpet like this is now a lost art.”


After the basics, Bob entered Berklee School of Music around 1957/8. At Berklee he learned how to arrange for big bands. “I’ve always wanted to be a big band leader like Harry, but I found myself wanting to change or improve the music of others. I want my own band to sound the way I hear it and I had to learn to do this.” In Everett Longstreth’s arranging class, I sat next the Toshiko Akiyoshi. She won't remember me, I don't think” Only 6 in the class at the 2 story tenement house on Newbury Street. “I was very busy at that time. Monday through Friday I’d take the New Haven Train from Providence to Back Bay Station in Boston, walk across the tracks to school at 284 Newbury Street. After classes, I’d get back on the train  to Providence, work a few hours at Muffett’s Music Record Shop, then go around the corner and play 9 to 1 at the Homestead Show Bar on Snow Street. On weekends, I worked all day at Muffett’s and Sunday was the radio show and a few Sunday jam sessions around town. I would do my Berklee homework in Union Station or Back Bay Station and sometimes on the train”.


After completing Berklee School of Music, Bob did what every musician does. Worked. “I did everything. I tell other musicians to never say no, no matter what the job is. When I do a clinic, I open by explaining about the Classical player who limits his playing to legit work. the hippie-dippie jazz musician who refused to compromise playing anything but jazz, And is still living with mom at 42. Then there’s me. Jack-of-all-trades. Tell me what you want and I’ll do my best to play it, no matter what it is. Am I right? This is the only way you survive the business.”  “I was so busy at one time, I remember doing a recording session in Boston during the mornings, then drive to New York City for a show. Jimmy Roselli on Long Island. After that, back to Providence. The same routine for 10 days in a row. I sometimes had to pull over and sleep at a toll booth along the Connecticut Turnpike. Too tired to continue home.”


Bob’s first band was formed in 1959. He used mostly stock arrangements, orketts  with a few specials. Like all bands in Providence, it was a pick-up band. “We weren’t as busy as the others but, we did cover New England pretty much. We’d play Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA to Ocean Beach in New London CT. Lake Compronce at Bristol CT to Peace Air Force Base in New Hampshire. Weirs Beach on Lake Winnapasockie, Old Orchid Beach Maine, a Firemen’s Ball in Burlington Vermont. There were many others but still we were not as busy as the other bands around. Mostly when all the others were booked, they called upon us to fill in somewhere.” The band was made up of a lot of musicians from Providence College."


Bob attended the Stan Kenton Clinic at Indiana University in 1961. At the clinic he focused studying with Russ Garcia film scoring, mainly because Russ was there. Joined the United States Army National Guard in 1960. A member of the 88th Army National Guard Band. Even when Bob had to return every Monday night for National Guard duty, and 2 weeks summer camp, he managed to play with many top names, little names and no name performers. Some of the no names were better than the big names. One night or six months, at sometime he played with them all.  “I would work a job in New York City then turn around for 3 weeks on the road, back to Providence for something and off again. Never stayed put anywhere. You have to be able and willing to travel."  “Periodically, I’d join a show band and work our way to Las Vegas. After Vegas, most of them broke up. In one year I may have toured with Elgart and Kaye, then played a sub job on a Broadway Show, usually at the Helen Hayes Theater. Played Rock’N’Roll in a soul band and/or played “Taps” for an Army ceremony.”  “One night in Boston, I was working at the Blue Bunny in Nantasket Beach playing for Sam Vine, a hypnotist, when, at the end of the show, the crowd started to applaud and stand up. Judy Garland entered the room, which held over 3,000, and mounted the stage. We had an impromptu jam session with her. Same thing happened a few years later with Gene Krupa when I was in White Plains New York.”  “These are some of the times you live for. Many, many stories if you’re a working musician and can get around.”


“Here’s one for you. Gerry La Furn, according to Al Porcino, the best section trumpet player ever, had written some arrangements for a singer in the Catskills where we were working with the Jimmy Dorsey Band. After we both got fired by Lee Castle, that’s another story, the singer, Jimmy Holmes,  wanted me to play the lead trumpet parts when he performed at Robin Hill Dell in Philadelphia. There were 4/5 charts to play. I agreed and Gerry and myself headed for Philly. The band that night was Count Basie. What a thrill that was.” Lee Castle and the Jimmy Dorsey Band at that time, was an excellent organization. The band got the best reviews when they played a Big Band Revival at Madison Square Gardens along side the Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller Bands. The Dorsey Band got the best response and review according to the New York Times. Not because of Lee. The band had some good players and we just had a lot of fun that night. It showed."


“I remember a few things that happened to me during the 1960’s. I was called once to sub on a Broadway Show, Now, usually you get called for 2nd or 3rd parts. But this time, I was present with the lead part. I’m not a bad sight reader, but, my knees were shaking all the time and I never want to do that again.  In Boston, while on the air, TV, they announced Ziggy Elman’s ‘And The Angels Sing’ as played by…..Me.   What!…..surprise to me. I play it very well but only because I knew it. Sight reading on live TV ? Not a good idea.”          “I played a National Ballroom Dance Contest at the Waldorf Astoria. The leader, I think it was Jack Hanson but not sure, lead the band with a stop watch to get the correct tempos.”


Bob moved to Toronto, Canada in 1972 to work with his friend, Ralph Rubino in “The Happy-Go-Lucky’s Showband, which was the top drawing showband in Toronto for 2 years.  Murray McEachren had commissioned Bob as lead trumpet for the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra reformed in the mid 70’s. “We toured Japan for a month and travel half way around the world to Prince Edwards Island in eastern Canada weeks later. In Los Angeles we worked at Disneyland.  “While in California, we worked a little place outside of Los Angeles called A Thousand Oaks where I met Ina Ray Hutton, Les Brown and Pee Wee Monti, the manager for Harry James. Ziggy Elmer, who was working with us at the time, asked Pee Wee to look me over for the Harry James Band. I was invited to join the James band, but, I had been on the road so long, and recently married. I elected to return home to Toronto.  When I got back home, I couldn’t sleep laying down so I asked my wife to get me a seat {bus seat} and put in by the window. Shake it a few times and wake me up around 4:00 by stepping on my feet. A little diesel fumes would help too. Like on the bus you know”


Buddy Morrow soon took over the reigns of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and again asked Bob to return as lead trumpet. They worked the Playboy Club in NY, Roseland Ballroom, Glen Island Casino, Disney World, The National Arts Centre in Ottawa and the Palais, D’ Arts in Montreal for the Mills Brothers Show. In Toronto, they appeared on “Live At The Forum” TV,  and later that year were featured on the NBC-TV “Today Show”. Bob left the band in 1980 and 20 years later, returned around 1999. “We did Busch Gardens and Cypress Gardens, a couple of cruises for Holland-America and the usual places across America.”


The 1980s, Bob became a fixture on the Toronto music scene and lead his own band again for 20 years. During that period, he revived the Randy Brooks Orchestra, which both bands are still available when he is in town. “The most enjoyment I get now, is to lead my band and listen to the sound of the dancers' feet as they shuffle across the dance floor. Watching their faces shine enjoying the music and drinking in the sound of the band. That’s music to my ears.


Bob is a member of the International Trumpet Guide, The AFM since 1956, Glenn Miller appreciation Society in the UK and the Titanic Historical Society. “Wouldn’t want that gig.” Since 1995, Bob has been employed in the Cruise Ship industry, Sometime as Musical Director or just the showband trumpeter. He has worked on Princess, Celebrity, Holland-America, The Delta Steamboat Company on board the Mississippi Queen riverboat, Orient Line, but mostly now with NCL. Norwegian Cruise Lines. Over 30 ships and has played all over the world. On occasionally, Bob tours England as part of "The Unforgettables” show. He is one of 5 stars and performs the music of the world famous trumpeter, Eddie Calvert. However, when Bob is not cruising the world, he still leads his own 19 piece orchestra, an excellent dance band, as well as the Randy Brooks Orchestra. A 12 piece band. Recently, Bob arranged the horn parts (Trumpet, Trombone and Baritone Sax) for the song "Oooooutcha" (TomCattt's Debut Album: Hiiyaaaaaaaaaaa) and "Trust Not" (TomCattt's new Album "Sinophilia".

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