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Tony Pastor

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  • Born: Middletown, CT
  • Died: Old Lyme, CT
  • Years Active: 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

A novelty singer who (like Louis Prima) often emphasized his Italian heritage, Tony Pastor earlier in his career played swing tenor. Pastor started playing C melody saxophone while in high school. He worked with John Cavallaro (1927), Irving Aaronson's Commanders (1928-30) where he met Artie Shaw, and Austin Wylie (1930). Pastor led his own group in Hartford, Connecticut during 1931-34 and then was with Smith Ballew, Joe Venuti and Vincent Lopez. Pastor was an important part of Artie Shaw's first two big bands, the short-lived string combo and the clarinetist's very successful 1938-39 orchestra; in the latter group Pastor (as tenor-sax soloist and the male vocalist where his singing showed off the influence of Louis Armstrong) was one of the stars. When Shaw fled to Mexico in late 1939, Pastor (who had gained a bit of a name) soon formed his own successful orchestra, a big band that continued until 1959. The emphasis was more on novelties than jazz but there were occasional strong recordings in the swing vein. Most notable among Pastor's alumni were the Clooney Sisters (Rosemary and Betty) in the late 1940's. After breaking up his big band in 1959, Pastor formed a vocal group with his two sons, continuing to perform until he retired in 1968. As a leader, Tony Pastor recorded regularly during 1940-59 including for Bluebird, Victor, Columbia, Decca, Roulette, Everest and Capitol.