Nostalgic Reunion Jazz and Swing Band, Rochester NY
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Nostalgic Reunion has its beginnings and its roots firmly entwined around the years 1946 through 1955. Those were the years when Larry DiRienzo, Leo Pontes, Charlie Monachino, all saxophonists, and Frank Martella, pianist, began to perform in big bands such as the Joe Nolan Dance Band. They also played with younger performers like Gap Mangione and his brother Chuck, Joe Romano, noted tenor sax artist, and with the Brothers Musseri, John on piano and Sam on tenor sax.

Leo Pontes fronted the Barry Lionel Band, with four saxes; Leo on lead alto, Don Niggli, 2nd alto, Larry DiRienzo, tenor, and Johnny Vetere, 4th tenor. The group also had Joe Pera, Larry Smith and Mike Costello on trumpets, and Joe Castelli on trombone. Filling out the rhythm section were Frank Martella, piano, Larry Freitas, drums, and Jerry Merle, string bass. Nancy Forcella was the talented female vocalist.

Later on, Larry DiRienzo took over this group and renamed it the Larry Vincent Dance Band. This group played for a number of dances sponsored by the then "Hi-Y" clubs at the local YMCA facilities on the westside of Rochester. Larry took the group to Brockport to play for Brockport State Teacher's College events, before it became SUNY Brockport. This band was also involved in a number of "Battle of the Bands" dances with the Joe Nolan Dance Band, at the Immaculate Conception Church Hall, in Rochester. These events were big draws with the high school crowds, who were into the Lindy Hop and the Jitterbug. Joe's band played for Friday night dances at this location for a number of years. One of the ticket stubs to the April Fools Dance featuring the Larry Vincent Dance Band is shown to the right. The Larry Vincent Dance Band is pictured below. Leo Pontes is the third sax player from the left with Larry DiRienzo to his left. Frank Martella is on the piano.

Alas, 1950 came and so did the "Korean Conflict." Larry DiRienzo, Leo, John and Larry Freitas, served their country from early 1951 through 1955 … but they did so in Army band units. Larry DiRienzo was with the 326th Army Band in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Leo went to a band in Fairbanks, Alaska and then to another unit in Norfolk, Virginia. John served with the Valley Forge Army Hospital Band, Valley Forge, PA. Larry Freitas had the sweetest deal of all! He was stationed in Garmisch Partenkirchen, West Germany, a noted resort. Charlie Monachino went to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and directed a US Army Dance Band during his 2 years.

Upon their return to Rochester after service, most of the guys went their separate ways, i.e. got married or went to school, got married and held day jobs, raised families, etc., etc., you know the drill.

In 1995, being retired or semi-retired, an opportunity presented itself to the guys that would allow them to get back together again. Larry DiRienzo, Leo Pontes, and Charlie Monachino joined the newly formed Greece Concert Band. They began jamming during break times and had the bright idea of forming a new musical group. The trio had a great sound that blended well ... after all, the guys were back together again. With the addition of George Hadgis on the baritone sax, the saxophone quartet now had the depth needed to complete the sound the group wanted. Nostalgic Reunion is pictured below performing at the Irondequoit Mall in 1998.

Now the group needed musical arrangements that would take advantage of the talents of the each member. Leo had become very adept at writing arrangements for various big bands and wanted to try something different. Hearing this sound, Leo took on the task of arranging a few tunes for the group. As the excitement grew, Leo saw the potential and took on the monumental task of arranging all the music for the quartet (presently over 60). Leo continues to add to the group's library while he vacations each winter in Florida.

The group then needed to pull together the right rhythm section to help showcase the saxophones. Several musicians joined the group, eventually settling with the current rhythm section including Vinny Sarratori on drums, George Greven on bass, and Frank Martella on keyboards. With Leo's dedication and Larry's motivation, 1997 saw the birth of a new jazz band, Nostalgic Reunion, bringing the sounds of the 40', 50's, and 60's back to life. The instrumental group had a great sound that crowds enjoyed. In 1998, Tony Ferra was recruited as our vocalist. Tony's talents completed the sound, allowing the group to broaden its repertoire. Tony is pictured to the right also performing at the Irondequoit Mall in 1998.

Today, Leo handles musical direction and arrangements. Larry DiRienzo is the business manager, primarily responsible for booking the gigs and marketing the band. Every one else helps out where they can, whether its creating this web site, recruiting substitutes, or moving equipment. The picture to the left shows the band members doubling as "rodies" unloading the vehicles in preparation for a 1998 performance at the Gazebo in Canandaigua, New York.

By all reports, the Nostalgic Reunion gang is having the time of their lives, playing the music they love and entertaining crowds with "newly discovered" swing music and mellow jazz.

 

 

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