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Monday, August 4, 2008

Joe Cocuzzo 1937-2008

Standard of the Day recognizes the passing last Wednesday of respected jazz drummer Joe Cocuzzo, the one-time regular drummer for Rosemary Clooney who also played with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Harry James, Lena Horne, Vic Damone and Peggy Lee. He had recently been appearing regularly with Michael Feinstein, and just finished work on the CD Keely Smith Live at Feinstein's, due out later this year.


Anonymous said...

I just caught up with this bad news. I first saw Joe play at the Jazz Workshop on Boylston St. in downtown Boston. We're talking early/middle sixties here, maybe '64, or '65. If I had to guess I'd say Joe was playing with the house band of Ray Santisi on piano and John Neves (or Tony Eira) on bass. I seem to think they were playing with Frank Strozier on alto. Joe was a wizard, at home in free-form improv playing as well as gut-bucket blues. It was an education to listen to one of his sets.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Joseph Gerardo Cocuzzo was the same immaculate person on stage and off. He often said, it was important to be the same upstanding musician and person on stage as when you off the stage. He loved his drums, he had Perfect Time and Louie Bellson (as he spoke fondly of) had nothin' on him. He was happy Louie Bellson had a daughter that was following, "his act". A real talent and very intelligent man. He cared about people, and had enough class to carry the whole world. He was a great writer and spoke of Our Savior with love and devoutness. His son Nicolas Thaddeus was his loving son, who he addored, and he spoke of his family often. The last thing I ever remember Joe saying was, "If we are only allowed the time." I think he was. We all love you my Dear. The world
Shirley Fitzgerald

Walpurgis said...

I met Joe when he came into the Smithville, NJ Summer Tent in 1967 with Joel Gray. After rehearsal, the contractor asked me, "Who is that genius?" That was Joe, all right--patient, fastidious, committed, perfect. I played with him often after that in the casino showrooms in Atlantic City--Tony Bennett, Diahenn Carroll, I remember. When the orchestra took breaks, Joe stayed in his dressing room doing routines on a chair! He studied with the best, and helped me with absolutely vital corrections to a snare drum duet book I was preparing. He had a strong sense of self, but there was never a puffed-up air about him despite his successes and the eminent place he occupied in our business. One conversation illustrates this:a contractor objected the the price Joe wanted for a date. "I can get twenty drummers in New York who'll do it for half that price." "I know," Joe said, "but you won't get Joe Cocuzzo." Sad to say, the last I heard from him was in 1996 when he called, then sent the CD he had just made with Annette Sanders on which he did the lyrics to one tune and music/lyrics on another. Sleep well, old friend. You will always be remembered.

Anonymous said...

Gary Mcfarland: Profiles: Sunday Feb.6, 1966.
One of my favorite albums. A Live concert in Lincoln Center with the cream of the crop in every chair. On Drums...Joe Cocuzzo. Today Mar. 10th 2012. I went on line to find out who this "unknown (to me) drummer" was. I knew he had to be well respected to be involved in this (out of print, not on CD) concert. 47 years ago and he's still teaching.

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