In the summer of 1939, New York City was beautiful, exciting and it was the site of the World’s Fair. Frank Paparelli graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and went directly to New York to carve out a career in music. Frank was born December 25, 1917 in Providence, RI and died May24 1973 of congestive heart failure. He was the only son of Italian immigrants. He resided in Beverly Hills, CA. for the past 18 years. He was 55 when he died; survived by his wife Betty. Two daughters, Clorinda 23, Joan 15 and his mother, Clorinda.

At the early age of 5, Frank began to display his musical abilities at the piano. He studied with a local piano teacher, the late Oscar Lozzi. He attended Catholic grade and high schools. He joined the high school band and chose to play the coronet after one week with the coronet he was chosen to play all the solos.

He entered Brown University at the age of 16 and received a BA degree there. While in college he gained much popularity playing at Founce house and fraternity parties. He wrote the music and helped form the First “Brown Brokers” annual shows. In college he did much undergraduate work such as Solo piano over radio stations WJAR and WPRO, Night clubs, dance studios, Columbia University Varsity Show, Barnard College Show; and he was the “Happy Felton” contest winner for solo piano.” During his last in year in college, the very renowned French music teacher, Nadia Boulanger visited Brown UTC, and Frank played for her. She was very impressed with Frank’s playing and offered him the unique opportunity to go to Paris to study with her; one of her very famous pupils was Aaron Copeland. Frank loved jazz and always improvised. He also loved to play Chopin, Debussy and Ravel. Frank wanted to be a concert pianist, but he never got to Paris.

In the fall he attended Columbia University to do graduate work in music. He also studied privately with Dr. Hans Weisse “Der Freie Statz Shenker.” Money was scarce so in turn Frank taught some of Dr. Weiss’s pupils in order to continue his studies, Frank went to live at the Plymouth Hotel near Tin Pan Alley. He enjoyed the excitement and various discoveries of talent of Tin Pan Alley and would frequent it for exposure whenever he had some free time. A lot of famous people got discovered there. Frank made a deal with with a piano salesman in exchange for a piano he gave him piano lessons at the Plymouth Hotel.

At this time Luis Prima was looking for a pianist to go on the road and Frank needed a job. Luis was going to hire Frank until be learned that Frank wasn’t a member of the musicians union. That meant raising $60.00 dues He did become a member - but too late for the job.

To make some money Frank had to put his talents to work and began transcribing famous artists such as Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Louis Armstrong, etc. privately for people like Milt Raskin and Lou Levy, president of Leeds music, was married to Maxine Andrews of the famed Andrew Sisters and boogie woogie was really catching in a big way!’ Leeds was looking for someone to write a boogie woogie method book and word got around to them about Frank. The germ for the book arose from the need for a thorough book in the art of playing in the thrilling boogie woogie style. Frank was just the young man to write it. In 1941 he wrote “EIGHT TO THE BAR.” This was the first method book written on the subject and considered to be the best. It was a big hit and Leeds Music made lots of money with various deals they promoted on it. Frank made two cents on every book and some glory. The late Oscar Levant, concert pianist also known for his. wit and intelligence, spent 3 hours in Lindy’s famous restaurant in Tin Pan Alley, reading the book and when he finished stated “Now I know what Boogie Woogie is all about!”
Frank began to do assignments for Leeds. The money wasn’t enough to live so he took a job with Joe Venuti for quite a spell. Frank enjoyed playing with Joe because there was some freedom with jazz. Kay Star was the vocalist and a real nice gal who went on to greater fame. Frank really wanted to write and compose, so he returned to New York and continued to write for Leeds.

Frank began to write for the” Five for One Series.” This series contained solos transcribed from the original versions of the most famous boogie and blues pianists at that time. Each book contained five solos and piano
notations on the artist’s style. Frank contacted many of the artists personally. Some of these were Count Basie, Nat Cole, Mary Lou Williams, Clarence “ Pinetop” Smith, Buddy Johnson, Jim Yancey, Sammy Price, also Earl Hines and Irene Higginbotham, Art Tatum and so on.

The Andrew Sisters were very fond of Frank and he always accompanied them when they came into New York. At their invitation, Frank joined Will Osborne’s band and went along with them on a personal appearance tour across the U.S. to California. He made a motion picture, a Universal picture, with Universal Studios. Frank’s part was with a jazz group, frank on piano, and Buddy Rich on drums. Frank had many chances to learn and explore other avenues but once again, that Leeds had him all tied up in contracts.

In 1942, Frank wrote “THE BLUES.” The publisher added “AND HOW TO PLAY ‘EM.” Frank was far from pleased because “THE BLUES” is singular. Since Frank was an Ivy League graduate could read and write in three languages English, Italian and music, he found “How to play’em” was grammatically incorrect. Being a perfectionist that my Frank was… Leonard Feather wrote the foreword, and to quote a few lines “Paparelli’s book will be found the ideal approach to the subject. This book marks the first complete survey of the subject from this standpoint and as such is a work of lasting value.
Frank was writing the “Boogie Woogie Piano Solo Series” which consisted of simplified boogie woogie solos
of many the most famous Boogie Woogie tunes. Frank wrote 3 solos for this series “NEWTON’S BOOGIE WOOGIE” and adoption of Chopin’s “POLONAIS in BOOGIE” and “Korsakoff’’s, “FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLE BEE BOOGIE.” At this time, Frank also played auditions, coached and accompanied many famous people.

In 1943 Frank played solo piano at the New York’s famous Cafe Society downtown. Frankie Newton had the Cafe Society band and the great trombonist Vic Dickenson was playing with him. Boogie was very big and Frank composed and played a composition with the band most every night and called it ‘NEWTON’S B000IE W00GIE.” One of the musicians who played with Newton later joined Lionel Hampton and Hamp came out with a tremendous hit called “HAMP’s B000IE W00GIE.” This was a definite infringement on “NEWTON’S BOOGIE WOOGIE” Since Leeds already had contracts with Lionel Hampton and Frank worked for Leeds as an employee, it was very easy for them to make a crooked deal. Frank started to sue Leeds a couple of times but that’s another story…
Frank had earned the title of being “America’s Greatest Authority on Boogie Woogie”..
David Gordon commissioned Frank to write a boogie woogie composition for two concert pianists
Appelton and Field. Frank composed TOWN HALL FANTASY.” He coached them and they performed it at a Town Hall debut.

Somewhere in here Frank met Dizzy Gillespie and “BE BOP.” Frank used to go jamming with Diz and the late great bassist Oscar Pettiford and they became great friends. Frank also met and became very close with the late Clyde Hart. Frank and Clyde composed four compositions together. I have two acetates of Clyde playing some beautiful piano and one of Frank and Clyde playing a duet on “Flight of the Boogie Bee“.

Frank signed another contract with Leeds Music very exclusive (all tied up). He was also to be editor, write books and do many other things. Leeds had the right to pick up the option each year.

Frank wrote some other fine method books for Leeds: B00GIE W00GIE FOR BEGINNERS,”BOOGIE WOOGIE FOR LITTLE FINGERS”, “TWO TO THE BAR”, “FOUR TO THE BAR”, “DOWNBEAT BOOKS I AND and called “88 KEYS TO FAME,” and “STYLES OF THE FAMOUS 88’S.” He did vocal folios of the Andrew Sisters, Louis Jordan, etc. and vocal transcriptions of J. Rushing, Pintetop Smith,, etc. and arrangements song copies, stocks, etc.
Johnny Guarinieri was leaving Jimmy Dorsey’s band and Jimmy’s Manager, the late Billy Burton, persuaded Frank to take his place. Frank stayed with him for the New York engagement only because he was editor for Leeds.

In 1944 Frank signed Art Tatum for the “FIVE FOR ONE SERIES.” Frank made arrangements to pick up Art Tatum at the little hotel in Harlem where he always stayed when he was in New York. Frank picked him up and took him to Nola studios. Art was supposed to record, five original solos for the folio. With Frank’s great enthusiasm and great appreciation of Art’s talent, Art got carried away and recorded ten originals, Frank transcribed and edited five of the solos he thought best for the folio. When Frank finished the folio he proudly presented it to Art. Frank asked Art if he would like to hear it. Frank played the five transcriptions for him, Art was amazed and told Frank he had “freak ear”.

While Frank was editor he did some recording dates with Diz, Oscar and other recording groups. When an artist could play as well as Frank, he usually chose the path of performing. Frank really preferred the more normal life of a writer and composer.
In 1943-44 Frank met Dizzy, there was a new kind of music moving in called “BE BOP” It wasn’t actually new for Frank he had already been jamming around with Diz and the boys for sometime. Frank really “dug” it, and could see it’s importance as Frank was always an innovator and went all out on it. Frank and Diz composed eight compositions together, two of the most famous are “A NIGHT IN TUNISIA,” and “BLUE ‘N “BOOGIE’.
A Night in Tunisia is now becoming a well known standard and The King of all Bop compositions! First of the flatted 5th. Frank’s most important contribution to this composition was the tag at the end which originated from his piano arrangement in the ‘DIZZY GILLESPIE TRUMPET BOOK.’ ‘A NIGHT IN TUNISIA“, never would had been a hit without Frank’s memorable tag. It was a complete wedding of two different worlds. A break from the ‘FLATTED 5TH’ of “BE BOP” The most important contribution to this composition is that tag at the end. Besides, some of the other changes and additions Frank made to the original trumpet book, the notes have stayed the same.

On the very famous recording of “Round Midnight” by Theloneous Monk the last very melodic 8 bars were lifted from a beautiful composition by Frank and Diz called “Manhattan Mural”. Since then it is fast becoming a standard arrangement. Unfortunately, there are no royalties paid to us for “Round Midnight”.

Frank wanted to sign Diz for a special kind of trumpet folio, he got opposition from the publisher. One of the executives said “Are you kidding with that guy, (meaning Diz) he plays all wrong notes?” That didn’t stop Frank and due to his insight and enthusiasm for Be Bop and Dizzy Gillespie Trumpet player extraordinaire, he signed him up for the very special trumpet folio called “Dizzy Gillespie Trumpet Style” and this was news. Be Bop and Diz had most trumpet players and musicians buffaloed. This analysis of Dizzy’s style was the first technical statement of Dizzy’s improvising. Frank recorded the solos with Diz and transcribed the trumpet and piano parts and wrote the analysis of his style. Dizzy himself was absolutely amazed at the split second perfection of each transcription. This first book had the be bop classics of “52nd St.”, “Be Bop”, “Dizzy Atmosphere”, “Groovin ‘ High” and “Trumpet Jive”. When Frank transcribed and analyzed Dizzy, he made a map of Be Bop for everyone to “dig” what it was all about. Leeds Music was delinquent in publishing this folio and Frank had Diz writa letter of ultimatum to Leeds to either publish or return all compositions. The first trumpet folio came out in 1946; the second came out in 1949. Frank also wrote a marvelous book on Be Bop in 1949 and it was never published. I will quote a few gems Frank had to say about Gillespie: “Bop’s final argument is John “Dizzy” Gillespie - President of “Progressive Musicians Guild” - and Grand Master of the “Polytonal Society” Dizzy’s tremendous musicianship stands as a challenge to all musicians. In 1961 Leeds gathered together and published in their Jazz master series a folio called “Dizzy Gillespie” transcribed from recordings for B and C instruments. It has 14 compositions 6 composed by Diz alone and 8 by Frank and Diz. Ten of these compositions were taken from the two trumpet folios and the other four were the piano solos that were to go into the Frank and Dizzy’s piano folio. After Frank did all the work, co-composed 8 compositions, was responsible for the whole Leeds Be Bop catalogue, it would have been only fair to mention his name on the forward - which they didn’t. This was typical of Leeds treatment through the years.

Leeds was also supposed to publish a Frank and Dizzy piano folio of compositions by them, recorded, and transcribed by Frank. Frank did the work, but it was never published along with the folio on the late Oscar Pettiford and Clyde Hart. Frank also wrote a marvelous book on Be Bop in 1949 and it was never published. either.
In 1940 Frank wrote much composition and music to many songs. Most of his collaborators were black musicians and song writers. Frank always tried to get a good deal for people he signed up, but since the finances were not up to Frank, it was usually in vain. They had to accept what the publisher offered or no deal. The publisher offered or no deal at all. In fact, the publisher usually took more than their share and sometimes they took it all! However, Frank was well liked and to quote from two autographed pictures given to Frank that I believe apropos: “To my pal and favorite, of the best who cares about the rest” always, your buddy, Oscar Base face Pettiford. To Frank, “ The greatest pair of ears in the business and, whom I like to play with best your boy Diz.” Two of the greatest jazz exponents of our time (Art Tatum & Dizzy Gillespie) both came up with the same opinion of Frank “Fantastic ear”.

In 1944-45 Frank made many demonstration recordings of songs he wrote with a trio, Frank on piano, Bill Pemberton on bass and “Snags” “Napoleon Allan” on guitar with vocals by “Billy Joyce” and the the late “Ann Robinson“. They did it in a studio, as a favor and also for the experience, and what they learned from Frank. I have some classic recordings of this trio playing in the mid 1940’s right from the studio. This Trio even composed a slow Night in Tunisia, I call it “The Ballad of Night in Tunisia.” words by “Sid Robbins“. These songs are very beautiful. I have them in my collection.

In 1947 Frank was happy to be free lancing again. His association with Leeds was not a happy one or a rewarding affair. Unfortunately it was too late for the marvelous contract offered him in 1945 by Jack Robbins, president of Robbins Music, he was now deceased. Frank worked for many publishers and also did folios on Stan Kenton, Harry James, Rex Stuart, Louis Armstrong and transcribed Eddie Heywood, George Shearing, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Bobby Byrne, Benny Carter, etc., and the “Progressive Series” for J. J. Robbins. In this series he did the “Dizzy Gillespie Series for Piano Solos” and “Dizzy Gillespie Series of Be Bop Trumpet solos” transcribed 12 more famous Be-Bop compositions: “Anthropology”, “52nd. Street Theme”, “For Hecklers Only”, “Good Dues Blues”, “One Bass Hit”, “Oop-Bop-Sh-Bam”, “Oop-Pa-A-Da”, “Ray’s Idea”, “Shawnuff” “That’s Earl Brother”, “Things to Come” and “Two Bass Hit”. Gil Fuller was also doing a series for “Dizzy Gillespie’s Orchestra”. When the music came from the printers they had put Gil Fuller’s name on 6 of the trumpet solos with piano that Frank had done. Naturally, Frank was very angry and very disappointed. I’m sure these credits remained that way.

In 1952 Frank had a showing of his works at the Art Festival in Bologna, Italy. It was a gigantic project to demonstrate “The great contributions made to the world over by men and women of Italian origin for the progress of mankind“. He never saw it.
In 1953 we moved to California. It was a bad time for jazz – Rock n’ Roll was becoming the latest craze. Many of our jazz musicians left the country and went to Europe to make a living and to also be appreciated. Frank did some playing, teaching and still some writing for Leeds. He wrote 3 more simplified Boogie Woogie Folios. Frank wanted to write them in rock n’ roll, but they wanted more boogie.

Frank spent much time on exploratory research and analysis of various piano styles and stylists and what makes each style unique. In considering the uniqueness, he pointed out how to achieve each sound. In each style of music there is an approach to achieving that sound There is more to it than meets the ear. It involves the physical touch such as the positions of the shoulders, arms, elbows, fingers *high fingers- low fingers- sideways fingers speed, stroke, motion, thrust, etc. He anaylzed Tatum, Waller, Be Bop, Boogie Progressive and last but not least - Paparelli., Frank spent a great part of his life transcribing and analyzing the most famous jazz greats. He could sit down at the piano and capture each style so authentically that it would astound you. I would say Frank left valuable notes.

In 1959 he took a course in film scoring with Leigh Stevens. He really enjoyed it and got much out of it. What I am most happy about is the beautiful composition I now have as a result of this. He composed and scored many beautiful compositions. Happily I have much of this on tape. Five of these compositions were to later make up a contemporary jazz ballet.

Frank put much composition on tape and also loved to play standards and he recorded many. Frank’s approach to composition was always to sit down at the piano, turn the tape recorder on and improvise rhythmic, melodic and harmonic continuities. Most everything he ever recorded was a one shot improvisation. His composition consists of contemporary concert, contemporary jazz, and boogie and blues.

Frank put much compositions on tape and also loved to play standards He, kept a catalogue and named every song with a title, each one sort of fit the melody. Frank’s approach to composition was always to sit down at the piano, turn the tape recorder on and improvise rhythmic, melodic and harmonic continuities. Most everything he ever recorded was a one shot improvisation. His compositions consist of contemporary concert, contemporary jazz, Boogie and Blues.

In much of his composition there is a taste of the classical with contrapuntal and Latin jazz beat that I like ever so very much. Frank possessed a marvelous sense of rhythm, harmony and architecture. It is really hard to believe when you listen to these tapes with all the marvelous composition and the technique he had at the piano and all the material he has written through the years – that he gave up the music business. It was always too unrewarding.

In 1967 he took a civil Service exam and got a job with the County of Los Angeles which really saddened me deeply at the time. He worked his way up to an administrative position. In 1969 he began to feel the symptoms that led to congestive heart failure. In 1973 when he died he was the Employee Relations Representative for the Assessors Office and believe it or not - he really liked it. After all Frank had possession of many talents.

oThree months after Frank died a letter came addressed to him from George Ziskind a musician and pianist from New York. He went on to say a few years ago an Art Tatum record came out on English Fontana (FJL 904) according to the liner notes these 10 t racks were discovered in a box found at a New York publishing office in 1985. It was obvious to him that in reality only 4 of the 10 tracks were Art playing. Could any of these tracks be Frank? I can put some of the pieces of this puzzle together. As I explained Frank took Art Tatum to Nola Studios and Art recorded 10 original compositions. Four of these 10 tracks appear on this Tatum album, they are” Gang of Notes”, “Crystal Clear”, “Apollo Boogie” and “Between Midnight and Dawn”. The other six tracks are not Tatum and not from this collection. I believe them to be Frank playing. Frank kept the 10 original tracks of Art Tatum acetates. Four he made duplicates of and left a set in the file cabinet he used when he was editor at Leeds. That left one more track which I also have. I have 9 of the 10 tracks on acetate in my possession.

In the file cabined along with the Tatum acetates he left some of his own recordings. These were discovered and promoted to a record company as another artist. The 4 Tatum tracks were marked with a T and had no titles. They were given titles for this album. I also believe the other 6 tracks were given new titles. I don’t believe there were 6 tracks with no name and no titles. With the help of Jazz pianist Lloyd Glenn, we discovered that “52nd St. Blues” and “This and That” are two different improvisations of Frank playing the “jinxed” composition he wrote called “Newton’s Boogie Woogie”. I also feel “Just before Dawn” and “Midnight melody” are also two different improvisations of one compositions played at two different tempos. I distinctly remember Frank playing this many times. I once asked him what it was called, but to save my life I can’t remember. It wasn’t either of those titles. I have the 6 tracks narrowed down to 4. I believe these were some of the compositions he played at Café Society downtown in 1943.

It’s been difficult for me to find a pianist who has the time and ability to play for me everything Frank and composed transcribed for print. I hope to get to New York this summer and get some more answers.

I have been in touch with John McKellen, who used to be with Leeds Music, now with MCA. Mr. Mc Kellen found and promoted these controversial acetates. To quote from a letter he sent me “I agree that there were certain confusing aspects to the Art Tatum recordings and I an interested in clarifying the picture because certain recordings that may be Frank’s possibly could have been indicated as being Art Tatum.” He offered to write to the record company. Some of these 10 tracks are also on Black Lion (2460 - 158) “Art Tatum the Genius”.

Frank Paparelli has contributed much to the educational field and has brought much contribution to jazz lovers. I feel honored to have been able to have spend 28 years with such a great guy. And if I have my way you will be hearing more of Frank. Who knows - he may even achieve a post mortem recognition.

I’m here to tell you that you just heard the true story of Frank Paparelli. That many of you have been mislead all of these years. Well, if there hadn’t been a Frank Paparelli the one you never heard about before you read this biography. A man surely ahead of his time. He raised the bar for the Jazz industry, and is still doing it from heaven.

It’s time to honor the man behind the music, the brains behind the scenes. It’s never too late for a Legend. I am so very proud to finally have this moment to give this man the recognition he so greatly and righteously deserves. It’s time for the truth to come out. After 34 years the secret shall die. The man to be known for the world has a right to know truths not lies. For this was the man the genius the one responsible for so much in the field of Jazz after 36 years in heaven and kept a secret by many people who would like to go on taking credit for his works. For Frank was the one who raised the bar in the field of Jazz. He was the one! The only and today I proudly present to the world, my father:

Mr. Frank Paparelli

Frank Paparelli has in the field of Jazz been boundless. I believe he put himself in that position as editor for the good of the music. He took that crap from the publisher, because he knew he was in a unique position to make a difference in the Jazz world. He brought Jazz up to a higher level of understanding. Through his books written with such great intellect, wit and sense of humor yet with such simplicity his compositions and his transcriptions. He has given the world of Jazz a greater understanding then they can ever appreciate.

My mom just passed away in December 07. She never dated another man and remained true to her Frank. It was in 1976 when she started to pickup the pieces and transfer his music from reel to reel to cassette tapes. She kept very good care of all of his music and research that he left us. It wasn’t until 2004 that I got into the picture and decided to transfer the music from cassette to computer.

My mom wanted my dad to get the recognition he so righteously deserved so badly it made her a bitter woman at times. So many times he didn’t receive credit where his credit was way overdue. Music stolen from him by his own publisher, with credits going to some undeserving nobody.
She didn’t mention about the beautiful plaque that was given to Dad and Diz from the Country of Tunisia. But there was only one. My dad was so humble, he said “You take it Diz”, you take it”.

Well I’m here to tell you if there hadn’t been a Frank Paparelli, the one you never here about, you have been mislead all of these years. Because this is the true story of Frank Paparelli. The real Jazz genius! The author of all of those books, folios, Lucky for Dizzy he met Frank Paparelli! He was the brains behind the scenes. It was the guys like Frank who raised the bar for the kids today to have the freedom to create music even if they really don’t have any talent. Do you know a lot of kids who know how read music today? No, they just buy a machine that has the music pre-programmed, they use that. Not many write their own music from scratch now do they?

My Dad just used his brain a good pencil and blank sheet music. But he could write the music for all instruments as well. He was known as “America’s Greatest Authority on Boogie Woogie! Also, I have reason to believe that he was instrumental in the development of the now popular “Fake” books in the early 70’and how coincidentally it is to me that these books haven’t an author. You may ask me why I know this. Because I found it in his notes with long lists of different instruments and many standard songs along with the words FAKE BOOK!

Needless to say he never stopped playing, and composing music. The compositions he recorded on tape, he left a huge catalogue legacy that I have in my possession. Each song has a beautiful title that matches the melody. Titles like “Traveling’” on PCH” “Recipe for Love” “Reincarnation” “Lost World” “Rapport” “Tribute to Duke” “Jack Benny Boogie” “Near from afar” plus many more.

When He died it was 1973, for me, I wish I had gotten to know him for a longer time, lot of years without a father for my mother to be a widow and my sister also. My mother originally wrote this biography shortly after dad died. I wasn’t even 16, at the time, I wasn’t into his music. But every day when I’d walk home from school I could hear him on the grand piano from half way down the block. I don’t believe my father was through with music. Just the lack of recognition, and the terrorizing disrespectful treatment from the publishers. I think he stuck it out as long as he could for the good of the music. For he was put on this earth to be a musician and I think he accomplished a great deal for such a short time on this earth.
In addition, his loss has been a great tragedy in our family. We truly miss the genius.

A man like that is not born everyday! Think about it. I believe he was put on this earth for the sole purpose to be a musician and to create music, and make a difference. My dear mother had one wish before she left this planet, she said to me “Joan, please set the record straight for your dad, and get him the recognition he so greatly deserves.”

So that is why I am finally creating this web site in his honor, for he was truly a genius and it’s time the world should know the “Legend of a Jazz great my father I introduce to you the late Great Frank Paparelli“. What a great guy he was!

All of the music that you hear on this web site is overdue to be heard. He collaborated with a host of very famous people of the past. Also many of the compositions the publisher took and sat on. So I am taking this opportunity to bring them back out again. Who knows, maybe some of you might just be interested in a classic 40’s tune. There is much more to come. I am honored and excited to keep my promise and to have his legacy in my lap.

Please enjoy, for this is the true story of Frank Paparelli, Portrait of a Jazz Legend.

I hope you enjoy my website,

Sincerely,
Joan Kathryn Paparelli

 


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