Although blind from birth, ROBERT ALLEN PRAHIN, better known as BOB ALLEN, attended Capital University where he was regarded as something of a phenomenon in the Conservatory of Music. His love for music was nurtured in the Croatian bars his father used to take him to when he was a youngster in Cleveland. Once he arrived in Columbus, Bob began working local clubs as a solo and in duos and trios. The Bob Allen Trio moved into the Christopher Inn about 1964 and didn't leave until the wrecking ball level ball leveled the building. Since then, the Bob had long runs at the Wine Merchant, Hyde Park Grill, and similar venues. When he is not performing, Bob is teaching private students and at Dennison University. .
A product of Huntington, West Virginia, WILLIAM "JIMMY" ALLEN became so proficient on a tin whistle that his parents bought him a saxophone and enrolled him in the J. Lewis Good Music Conservatory. Eventually, he joined the Fletcher Henderson Band, which brought him to Columbus in 1943. Jimmy immediately found work with Cal Greer, Earl Hood, Percy Lowery, and Raleigh Randolph, in addition to forming his own combos. It wasn't long before Jimmy gained a reputation as the hottest sax in town through his participation in the fabled "cutting sessions" with local and out-of-town musicians. In 1958, Jimmy moved to Los Angeles, finding work in local bands, numerous recording sessions, and performing in various movies, including Darling Lillie, A Guide for the Married Man, Hello Dolly, and Star. He was working at the original Disneyland when he was offered a job conducting at Disney World in Orlando.
Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, WILLIAM P. BAKER earned a master's of music in oboe performance from Louisiana State University and studied with the principal oboist with the Vienna Symphony. From 1962-78, he was the principal oboist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and a founding member of the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and Lyric Wind Quintet. Bill has played oboe with the Conservatory Winds Quintet, oboe and woodwinds the Kenley Players Orchestra, baritone and tenor sax with the Jerry Kaye Big Band, and oboe and English horn for the Broadway Series. As a conductor, he has worked with the Columbus Women's Symphony, Upper Arlington Civic Symphony, Capital University Wind Ensemble, and the Land of Legend Philharmonic, of which he is the founder and artistic director as well. In 1988, Bill was proclaimed as One of Ohio's Finest Citizens by the State Legislature and the same year received a 25 Years of Teaching Excellence Award from The Ohio State University.
Guitarist DONALD W. BECK is a native of Columbus who began playing guitar in 1960 and was soon traveling throughout the Midwest with the Bill Strickland Trio. In 1963-64, he was a member of the house trio at the Kahiki restaurant, then formed his own trio to play clubs and hotels throughout Central Ohio. He appeared regularly at the Ohio State Fair with such notables as John Davidson, Mack Davis, Andy Williams, Pat Boone, and Paul Williams. He has also worked with the likes of Tom Scott, Brook Benton, and Frankie Laine. For several years, Don was a member of the Gene Aller Trio. He also headed the local band Collage from 1970-77, while teaching guitar at Coyles Music and the Columbus School of Jazz. Joining Joe Dunlap in 1977, he performed at the Scotts Inn, Raddison, Ramada, and similar venues. Going solo in 1980, Don spent the next ten years at the Gloria Restaurant, followed by three years at Ricardo's Restaurant. For the past eight years, he has been performing at Milano's Steak House each weekend
Considered one of the city's best keyboard players, JIMMY CARTER was a mainstay of the Earl Hood Orchestra as well as the Keynotes of Rhythm. He was also a member of Tippie Dyer's band, the Ernie Brown Trio, and various other combos. In 1946, the Ohio State News readers picked him for the Ohio State All-Star Band on piano. Carter continued playing into the 'fifties and 'sixties is credited with having been a major influence on many younger musicians.
The "poet of the piano", CARMEN CAVALLARO was born in New York City. Although classically trained, he expanded into pop arrangements, inspired by his idol, Eddy Duchin. After four years as the featured soloist with the Al Kavelin Orchestra, Carmen moved onto a series of other society bands, including those of Abe Lyman, Enric Madrigueria, and Meyers Davis. In 1940, he began fronting his own groups and releasing records on the Decca label, starting with "Dancing in the Dark". Some 75 albums were to follow, many of which charted. Moving to Hollywood in 1944, Carmen appeared in a number of films including Hollywood Canteen, Out of This World, and The Time, The Place and the Girl. His recording of "Chopin's Polonaise" was an enormous hit in 1946. Following the war, he hosted his own radio program for NBC, The Sheaffer Parade. In 1956, he provided the music for the move The Eddy Duchin Story, starring Tyrone Power in the title role. During the '60s, he played the Maramor many times and it was there he met Donna Schwenker, a hostess at the restaurant. They married in 1964, and settled in Columbus in 1971. From then until his death in 1989, Carmen continued to record and perform, especially for the Japanese market.
LAWRENCE "BEAU" DIXON got his start in Columbus with Parker's Popular Players before joining Sammy Stewart and relocating with him to Chicago in the 1920s. Skilled on the banjo, guitar, and cello, Beau remained with Stewart until Earl Hines formed his own orchestra. He also led his on band, Dixon's Jazz Maniacs, on a series of recordings for the Paramount label. Beau continued working with Hines through the 1930s before moving onto various other bands. In the 1960s, he continued to play and record, both with Franz Jackson's Original Jazz All-Stars and other groups featuring Earl Hines, "Pops" Foster, Lil Armstrong, etc. Beau was among the earliest local musicians to develop a national reputation.
At the age of 13, ARCHIE "STOMP" GORDON was already something of a local celebrity. His precocious talents as a singer and piano player were being displayed before such diverse audiences as the Nelsonville Eagles Club, Lafayette High School in London, and Wilberforce University. The garage behind his home on Barthman Avenue had become a haven for other budding young musicians who joined him for lengthy jam sessions. By the time he was 16, he was working the Kiri Café, the Musical Bar, El Troviato, and other Central Ohio clubs. With his bright ties, dice shoe strings, and zebra coat, he was a wonder to behold, especially when he would add more power to the bass by stomping on the piano keys with his bare feet. In his brief career, Stomp appeared on Ed Sullivan, appeared in several movie shorts, accompanied Billie Holiday on an Alaskan tour, and earned a ranking of 17th best pianist in the Downbeat pool and 26th in Metronome. He recorded a total of 17 tunes for four different labels before he passed away in 1958 at the age of 26.
FRANK KINNAN was born in Zanesville and brought up both there and in Columbus. A clarinet student of Fred Weaver, a former member of the Sousa Band, while in high school, Frank went on to earn a bachelor of science in music at Ohio State. During World War II, he served in the Air Force Band at Wright Field in Dayton, and in Rome, New York. In addition to teach elementary music in the Columbus Public Schools for many years, Frank played clarinet in the Columbus Philharmonic, The Columbus Little Symphony, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He also played both clarinet and saxophone with the Kenley Players Orchestra during its lengthy run. For a time, Frank went on the road with the Jimmy Orchestra and several others. Locally, he played lead alto sax with Jerry Kaye's Ohio State Fair Band, the Chuck Selby Orchestra, and the Al Waslohn Big Band, as well as the bands of Jimmy Franck, Jimmy Lloyd, Abe Dworkin, and Ray Cincione.
Keyboard wizard ANDY LAUNER is the youngest of five kids. His father was a professional musician who played piano and trombone. While at East High School, Andy played in a combo with his classmates. He then obtained a choral music degree at Ohio Wesleyan and taught music to grades 1 through 12 both in Ohio and New York. Returning to Ohio in 1960, Andy obtained work in local clubs, restaurants, and country clubs. He also took over his father's piano service business. Launder's trio performed on the daily TV show "Dialing for Dollars". He also wrote and recorded several jingles for radio. In 1991, he joined forces with Jack Widner to form the Andrew Jackson Pianoforte, a twin piano act. In addition to performing throughout Ohio, they've played gigs in Los Angeles, Texas, and Chicago. They were featured in a WOSU-TV special a few years ago and have recorded three CDs to date.
Born in Columbus to a father who was determined to have a family orchestra, IDA EUGENIA MARTIN was trained to play the alto sax. She developed into an excellent sight-reader and also sang. With her six brothers and sisters, she was a member of the Hard Orchestra, Hard being the family name and the name of the road that adjoined their property. They would frequently play at Harding Hospital and were rewarded with cake and ice cream. It was in the Worthington Civic Band (directed by her father), that Ida met her future husband, a trombonist named Lowell Martin. Following their marriage, Ida formed a trio, the Rhythm Queens, to play jazz in such local spots as Stone's Grill, Deibel's, and The Hogshead Club. It was unusual for women to be venturing out into such places, but it was a way to earn money to help support her growing family during and after the Depression. The proprietor of one establishment, The Café Bernard, rated them as a top swing group. Later on, Ida began volunteering in church, directing adult and children's choirs. For over thirty years, she was a church organist and also taught piano and organ students.
The lives and careers of LEONARD AND MARGARET RIVENBURG have been intertwined since they met at the Eastman School of Music where both were students. Margaret, who was born in Claremont, New Hampshire, attended the University of Rochester, as well as the Eastman School, earning her bachelor's and master's degrees. Leonard, who hails from Spokane, Washington, attended the Eastman School, New England Conservatory, and Julliard. Both have been members of the Dallas, Miami, and Columbus Symphonies. Margaret also was with the Montreal Women's Symphony and the New Zealand Opera and Ballet, while Leonard was with the New Orleans and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. Margaret, who plays the oboe and English horn, has been a professor of oboe at Capital University and taught music in the South-Western City Schools. Leonard, whose instrument is the French horn, has taught at Ohio State, Kenyon, and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He has also been a member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble, led the Columbus Symphony Ensemble, and has worked with various local show bands and concert bands.
Pianist and percussionist J. FREDERICK "FRITZ" SAENGER, SR. played his first professional gig at 15, accompanying an accordionist at Memorial Hall in Dayton, Ohio. At Ohio State, Fritz played timpani in various bands and orchestras, and also played piano in many groups. After graduation and marriage, he helped form the Don Crawford Orchestra with Don Hennen and also worked with Howdy Gorman until a job with the US Treasury led to his leaving Columbus. However, at the end of World War II, he was back "home" again, jobbing with various local bands, including his own. At this point, he met up with Gerard Van Velsen and began working with him. Over time, they developed Van's Music Sales, in Clintonville and Fritz eventually became the owner-president. During the store's heyday, some 300 students a week received musical instruction from as many as twenty instructors. Concurrently, Fritz was vocal director of various German and Swiss singing ensembles, organized the Germania Concert band, performed in the Aladdin Shrine Temple Band, etc.
Just when it appeared the local market was saturated with sax players, dapper CARL SALLY appeared on the scene. He had first garnered attention in 1949 at the age of 12 for his outstanding showing in a local talent competition. A graduate of Central High School, Carl worked his way through OSU playing such places as Kitty's Show Bar, Gardner's Café, the Bamboo Room, and Moonlight Gardens in Newark. In New York, he sat in with Lionel Hampton's band and also Arthur Godfrey's CBS Orchestra. In 1958, he cut his first record while working in Boston. Carl continued to work the road along the East Coast throughout the 'sixties. In the 'seventies, he once again was playing his hometown, where he was pitted against hall-of-famers Rusty Bryant and Chuz Alfred in sax showdowns.
A native of Sidney, Ohio, FRANKLIN SCHAEFERhas been playing semiprofessionally for more than 75 years. This self-taught musician started on the flute with the Sidney Kiwanis Club band in 1923, but switched to the piccolo six years later while studying with Ary van Leuwen who was considered to be "one of the three greatest flutists in the world." Over the years, Franklin's talents have been featured in the Worthington Civic Band, Greater Columbus Concert Band, Dayton Municipal Band, and other comparable groups. At the age of 45, he enrolled as a freshman at Capital University, earning a bachelor's degree in music education in three years. Following graduation, he taught music in the Southwestern City School System for ten years and as a substitute in the Columbus Public Schools for another three years.
In musical education circles DR. MARY TOLBERT is nationally known for her pioneering work and research in music education for youth. The co-author of the This Is Music series for grades K-8, she has been instrumental in shaping the music curriculum in numerous school systems. For many years, Mary taught at Ohio State's laboratory school, University School. When the school closed in the 'sixties, she continued to teach in the Education Department at OSU. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she produced many musicals at University School, The Desert Song, Brigadoon, and The Red Mill among them. In 1966, Dr. Tolbert was treated to a tribute by staff and former students of University School. A noted author and lecturer, perhaps, her impact upon music is best exemplified by the number of her former students who have continued in the music profession.
A native of Columbus, JANE TURNERbegan her professional career as a vocalist and dancer in 1945 at the American Legion on Mount Vernon Avenue. She quickly found work at Skurdy's Showbar, the Belmont, the Regal, and other local clubs before heading for the West Coast. For two years, he was featured at the Longbar Showboat in San Francisco, working with the likes of Art Tatum, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Coming home to Columbus in 1952, Jane joined Rusty Bryant's Band and then went on the road with the Herbie Fields Orchestra, with whom she remained until 1956. At the time, she was one of the few African-Americans to "front" an all-white orchestra. Following the birth of her son, Jane retired from music to raise her family and continue her education.
GLEN E. WILSON's first professional gig in Columbus was at Valley Dale in 1938, playing bass fiddle with Lancaster's Dick Trimble Orchestra. Soon thereafter, he quit his job with Ohio Power and drove to Tampa, Florida, where he found work with the orchestras of Bob Sylvester (Hal Kemp's arranger) and Cincinnati's Barney Rapp. He traveled throughout the south and New England for the next two or three years until World War II intervened and he joined the Air Force Band at Randolph Field, Texas. At the conclusion of the war, he returned to Ohio, taking a job at the Brazil Club in Columbus. Here he was spotted by Snook Neil and Walter Knick who asked him to join the WBNS Staff Orchestra. During the same week, he also joined the band of saxophonist Tommy Lucas at the Palm Gardens nightclub and, later, Henry Cincione's house band at the Riviera Club. In 1946, Glenn returned to Florida with a new bride and formed the Buddi Satan Trio. He remained there for four years before coming "home" to Columbus, where he began working with the Frank LaRue Trio and Frankie Bush Orchestra. In 1981, he joined up with accordionist Esther Craw and Roger Dini's Schnickel-Fritz Band.
LEONARD E. WOLSTEIN or Lennie, as he prefers to be called, was one of the original members of the Columbus Boy Choir and attended their special school while in junior high. In high school and college, he led a 10-piece dance band, Lennie Wynn and his Orchestra, playing area dances, USO events, and private parties. A trumpeter and pianist, Lennie graduated from Capital University, then attended UCLA to work on his master's degree. He soon became engrossed in the Los Angles Choral project, developing and leading a city choir. He also started working as a music copyist and eventually became head of music preparation for Columbia Studios. In the '70s and '80s, Lennie worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third King, often with his friend and fellow Columbusite Artie Kane. After forming Leonard Wolstein Music Preparation Services, he assumed responsibility for all music heard on Aaron Spelling Productions such as Dynasty and Love Boat, as well as the Danny Thomas and Dick Van Dyke Shows, Mod Squad, National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau specials, etc. Since his retirement in 1990, he has focused on performing and arranging.
THE MUSIC MAN AWARD: Given by founder Robert D. Thomas to A Central Ohio musician who deserves special recognition for his or her unique accomplishments or contributions. SYLVIA "SYL" HUNING~ A native of Montclair, NJ, Syl studied violin for eight years while growing up and has played with a number of amateur orchestras from the St. Louis Philharmonic to the Westerville Symphony, as well as the Columbus Women's Symphony and the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. Then in 1992 at the age of 60, Syl began using her ability to "play-by-ear" to perform as a strolling violinist in Columbus, Dayton, and Springfield, as well as two weeks a year in St. Louis. In addition to working weddings, private parties, corporate events, restaurants, and even the state house lawn, Syl participated in the Musicare program at the James Cancer Hospital. However, she considers the "heart" of her business to be the many health and retirement centers at which she has performed. In addition, she has been involved since 1998 twice yearly "Healing Weekends" for people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, sponsored by the AIDS ministries of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. The fact that Syl discovered her calling as "The Strolling Violin Lady" at an age when many people are thinking about retiring should serve as an inspiration to all.
THE GOLDEN NOTE AWARD: Given by the Hall of Fame to recognize a Central Ohio musician whose historical contributions or accomplishments deserve to be remembered. CARL "BATTLE AXE" KENNY ~ When Paul Whiteman, who proudly (if erroneously) bore "The King of Jazz", was asked by New York music critics to name the All-American band by selecting the best players of each individual instrument from across the nation, he pronounced Kenny "The World's Greatest Drummer". Battleaxe was born in Columbus around the turn of the century. At the age of 14, he joined Charlie Parker's band. He was nicknamed "Battle Axe" by local millionaire, Sam Esswein, owner of Samuel Esswein Plumbing, who was one of his biggest fans. Three years after he first began to play professionally, Battleaxe was hired to fill a featured spot in James Reese Europe's 45-piece orchestra, rated as the best in the country at that time. For 22 years, Battleaxe also found work in a number of Broadway productions, including Sissle and Blake's "Shuffle Along", "Chocolate Dandies", "Running Wild", "Liza", "Put & Take", and Lew Leslie's "Blackbirds". However, his most thrilling moment was when he competed in a citywide drummer's contest at the Winter Garden theatre and took home the gold medal in a tie with the drummer from "Castles in the Air". In 1938, Battleaxe returned to Columbus due to his mother's ill health. To the end of his life, he wore his gold medal on his watch chain.