AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
JAZZ AROUND TOWN
by Scott YanowRON APREA’S THE ERA I ALMOST MISSED
Every jazz musician should find time to write their memoirs, for each one has had experiences and stories that would otherwise be lost to history. A saxophonist whose consistent excellence has long been taken for granted, Ron Aprea has had a much more extensive history than one might have expected.
The title of his autobiography, The Era I Almost Missed (self-published and available from www.ronaprea.com), refers to the era of regularly working big bands. Born in 1939, Aprea had the opportunity to work with such 1960’s bands as those led by Lionel Hampton (who became a close friend), Woody Herman, Les Elgart (his tales about traveling with Elgart are sometimes quite humorous), Buddy Morrow, and his mentor Frank Foster. He also worked with orchestras assembled for r&b players like King Curtis, accompanied some show biz personalities, and recorded with John Lennon in 1974 on Walls and Bridges, giving one a touching profile of the ex-Beatle.Ron Aprea is probably best known for his collaborations with his wife singer Angela DeNiro including heading his own orchestras but, as The Era I Almost Missed shows, that is only part of the story although a very significant part of the past 40 years. Aprea discusses his childhood, his early musical experiences, his main recordings and, in addition to Hampton and Foster, talks about such artists as Arnie Lawrence, Lew Tabackin, Pat Rizzo, Les DeMerle, Woody Herman, Phil Woods (he took lessons from him), Jimmy Nottingham, Georgie Auld, his family, and of course Angela DeNiro.
The Era I Almost Missed was put together in one month during the 2020 Pandemic when Ron Aprea unexpectedly had a lot of free time. The well-written stories balance humor with occasional tragedy, giving one a good idea not only of the saxophonist’s busy life but of the jazz life in general. This continually interesting book is highly recommended and will lead one to searching out Ron Aprea’s rewarding albums.