Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
One of the finest clarinetists to emerge from New Orleans but somewhat underrated throughout his long career, Tony Parenti had a smooth and fluid sound and a style full of subtle surprises and exciting moments. Parenti's father had been a musician in the Italian Peasant Army. Parenti started on violin but soon switched permanently to clarinet. After studying at St. Philips School in New Orleans, he played in Joseph Taverno's Italian Band and worked with Alfred "Baby" Laine (1914), Nick LaRocca, Johnny Stein, Johnny DeDroit, and many other bands around his hometown. Parenti (who led his own bands on and off starting in 1917) first recorded in New Orleans as a bandleader in 1925, not moving to New York until the late '20s. He then worked in the studios of CBS and in the dance bands of Paul Ash, Arnold Johnson, Fred Rich, Meyer Davis, B.A. Rolfe, and others. After four years with the Radio City Symphony Orchestra, in 1939 Parenti joined Ted Lewis' band, staying until 1945. He returned to jazz the following year, starting a longtime association with Eddie Condon, playing with George Brunis, and leading his own Dixieland band at Jimmy Ryan's. Parenti worked in Chicago with Muggsy Spanier and Miff Mole, spent four years in Florida in the early '50s (often playing with Preacher Rollo Laylan's Five Saints), was with the Dukes of Dixieland briefly in 1952, and then returned to New York in 1954, where he mostly led his own bands including a long spell (1963-1969) at Jimmy Ryan's. Tony Parenti was active up until his death, always sticking to classic Dixieland. He recorded as a leader during 1925-1926 and 1928 (all of which has been reissued on a CD for the Frog label), for Jazzology (1947, 1949, 1962, 1966-1967, and 1971), Southland (1954), Jazztone (1955), and Fat Cat (1971).