Even though Al Gallodoro has been gone for six years, fellow musicians, students and friends say his music is still very much alive.
The music legend and former Oneonta resident will be honored Sunday at a Birthday Tribute Concert in New York City, according to a media release. One of Galladoro’s students, Broadway saxophonist Chad Smith, will perform the tribute to his former teacher and mentor at 7:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church on 346 West 20th Street.
Gallodoro, who would have turned 101 on June 20 this year, is best known for being the the musician who performed the opening clarinet glissando from the 1945 film Rhapsody in Blue. Gallodoro performed it with the famous Paul Whiteman Orchestra more than 10,000 times throughout his long and successful career, the release said.
At the tribute, Smith will play some of Gallodoro’s most famous solos on the legend’s original horns: a bass clarinet, clarinet and 1958 Selmer alto saxophone with “Al Gallodoro” engraved in the bell. The concert will be attended by many friends and family, including Gallodoro’s music producer and grandson, Kevin Wood, the release said.
Smith has played with the Boston Pops and Metropolitan Opera orchestras, and been a member of the orchestra for the Broadway show “Wicked.” At Sunday’s tribute concert, he will be joined by a 15-piece wind ensemble and multiple world-renown musicians, the release said.
Gallodoro’s longtime keyboard accompanist, manager and friend, JoAnn Chmielowski, said she cannot think of a better musician to perform the tribute. Smith’s duplication of Gallodoro’s playing is next to perfect, she said.
“When Chad plays, I just close my eyes and it feels like Al’s right there playing,” Chmielowski said.
Gallodoro was also a fan of Smith’s and would likely be proud of his accomplishments, Chmielowski said. When Smith sought out Gallodoro in 2005 to take saxophone lessons from him, Gallodoro was impressed with his natural talent.