Frank Loscavo was only 3 years old when his father died, but the elder Loscavo still ended up having a profound influence on his son’s life.
“When I was a toddler he would put me on his shoulders, walk around the house and play saxophone, and make me duck under the doorway,” Loscavo said recently from a coffee shop in Scotia.
“And those are my recollections of my father. Like everybody, if your father’s a barber, you’re a barber; if your father’s a saxophonist, you become a saxophonist. That’s pretty much how it happened.”
He got his start playing classical and pop music, but soon found himself gravitating toward jazz and swing. Once again, it was his father’s influence at work.
“My father, actually, when he passed away we had all these extra — in the music room there was Benny Goodman, and all swing type stuff,” Loscavo said. “So it was kind of ingrained in me then, that swing and jazz — that was like the golden era there; that was pretty much the mid-’50s. . . . It was kind of drilled into me — you should listen to this, this is good.”
Frank Loscavo and Hi Fly
— Noon today
Where: Jazz on Jay, Jay Street, Schenectady
How Much: Free
More Info: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
— 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Aperitivo Bistro, 426 State St., Schenectady
How Much: Free
More Info: 579-3371, www.aperitivobistro.com
At Jazz on Jay
Since relocating to the Capital Region from his native Syracuse roughly a decade ago, he has become a regular in area jazz clubs and events, leading various lineups of musicians under the band name Hi Fly. He’s playing next at Jazz on Jay today at noon, with pianist Peg Delaney, bassist Bill Delaney, drummer Mark Foster and trumpeter Steve Lambert rounding out his band. On Wednesday, he’ll perform at Aperitivo Restaurant with Mike Solazzo on bass and Solazzo’s son, Dave, on piano.
Although Loscavo has been playing saxophone for most of his life, he says he first started taking it seriously at “about 18 or 19.” He began studying under Gerry Santy, and attended Onondaga Community College in Syracuse in the mid-’70s, learning from David Abrams, Joe Riposo and Phil Woods.
“Out of that community college there . . . [pianist] Cliff Brucker went to OCC; Joe Magnarelli, the trumpet player form New York there, he went to OCC,” he said. “Mike Solazzo, he went to OCC. . . . That was one of the better two-year schools back in that time.”
After college, he went on to meet and play with some of his biggest influences, such as Blood, Sweat and Tears’ saxophonist and arranger Fred Lipsius, and “Tonight Show” band member Arnie Lawrence.
“I had a VW bus at that time, in the mid-’70s, so I would drive around where he was,” Loscavo said. “He would have the horn section with him, and they would want to go to a jam afterwards. I had the VW bus, and [we would] just all pack in there. And even though at that time I didn’t feel I was ready to jam or play with them, just osmosis, you know, sucking it all in and learning from him. And eventually Arnie would let me play his horn on some things, introduce me to different musicians.”
In Syracuse, Loscavo was exposed to tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, and ended up playing with many of his collaborators, including pianist Frank Stagnitta and drummer George Reed. When Loscavo moved to Scotia, he was introduced to players who had worked with Troy’s Nick Brignola.
“I kind of got the best of both worlds, because there it’s Sal Nistico, and here it’s Nick Brignola, and they both respected each other and really established themselves,” Loscavo said.
Reed and Stagnitta helped form the core of Loscavo’s backing band, along with bassist Dave Arenius, for his first album, “As Is . . .”, which was recorded and released five years ago and garnered Loscavo a nomination for a Syracuse Area Music Award. The album features arrangements of songs such as John Coltrane’s “Naima” and Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments,” as well as one of Stagnitta’s originals, “Diane.”
Loscavo hopes to record again soon, with plans to work with Stagnitta again, as well as the Solazzos. He’s hoping to feature more of his own writing and arrangements on a future album.
“I’m starting to gain more interest in the writing and arranging,” Loscavo said. “I have these other guys giving me suggestions, and I’ll fill it in, or I’ll take a chord apart and I’ll analyze it and try and fit things in there.”
Categories: Life and Arts