The Second Coming of Joe Corsello

from Classic Drummer January/February/March 2006
by Debbie Lucas

Joe Corsello was born into a musical family. His father, Tony Corsello, was the original steel guitarist with Swing & Sway with Sammy Kaye’s Orchestra. From an early age, watching the band’s drummer, Joe was hooked.

Corsello was born and raised in Stamford, CT, a bedroom community 30 miles from New York Citv. He graduated from Rippowam High School in 1964 and attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. While there, he studied with Alan Dawson, and evenings plaved with saxophonist Sam Rivers and his Quartet.

He left school during the VietNam era and joined the Army. He was chosen for the Army Band and was stationed in Fort Wadsworth, NY.

After discharge, for several years, he played with the Glen Miller Orchestra under the direction of Buddy DeFranco. In the early 70′s, Corsello played and toured with such greats as Benny Goodman, Marian McPartland, and Peggy Lee. During this time, Joe also played with Jeremy Steig Trio with Eddie Gomez and Gerry Mulligan Quartet, recording the movie soundtrack “La Manace”. When in Rochester, NY, Joe studied with John Beck when possible.

Corsello left Peggy Lee to form a jazz/rock fusion band called New York Marv (Arista Records) with saxophonist Bruce Johnstone, bassist Rick Petrone, guitarist John Scofield, and trumpeter Lou Soloff. Studio work was plentiful then and Corsello kept busy doing TV jingles and commercials. He also toured with guitarist Gene Bertoncini and saxophonist Zoot Sims.

In the late 70′s, he put down the drumsticks and found a steady gig to support a new and growing family. He became a police officer in Stamford, CT and for the next 22 years, kept a beat of a different sort. He went from street cop to homicide detective and on to community policing. In the 7 years prior to his retirement in 2001, as part of the community policing effort, Corsello co-founded the Music Box. Spirited by the late Connecticut Senator Anthony D. Truglia, who was instrumental in Joe’s appointment to the Army Band, the Music Box allowed children of low-income families age 9-16 to enrich their cultural lives by learning to play a musical instrument in a formal setting with qualified professionals, free of charge.

Fans, friends and fellow musicians finally encouraged Corsello’s return to music. For the last decade, he has freelanced and worked with a variety of talent. He reconnected with Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company and, as one of their clinician /educators, does clinics at high schools and colleges around the country.

Corsello also performed in the Stamford production of Marion Caffney’s Cookin’ at the Cookery, highlighting the life and times of singer, Alberta Hunter.

Corsello has released cd’s Blues in the Alley (2004) and Greasy Street (October 2005) with bassist Rick Petrone, organists, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Pete Levin and guitarist, Richie Hart. He continues to perform while promoting Greasy Street, which continues to climb up the Jazz music charts. Corsello is also featured on the last recording released by Benny Goodman titled Live from Haniburg Germany and Marian McPartland’s, Tribute to the Music of Alec Wilder.

Joe remains deeply involved with young artists, conducting clinics and encouraging confidence to perform. He is currently the head Jazz Drum adjudicator for the State of Connecticut. He is co-founder of SummerJazz, a two-week jazz workshop for kids of all ages, supported by Zildjian Cymbal Company and a local corporation.

Joe’s inspiration came largely from Buddy, Rich, Gene Krupa, Joe Morello, and his friendship with Papa Joe Jones. Alan Dawson’s influence, guidance and critical ear opened Corsello’s mind and talent. Joe was thrilled to recently co-produce a 7 CD box set of 1952-1962 Buddy Rich material for Mosaic Records.

1. Photo from Joe’s Drum Method Book – 1972 Kendor Music

2. As a police officer with kids – Stamford, CT 1996

3. 1st Army Band – 1968

4. Corsello, Bruce Johnstone, Rick Petrone – New York Mary – 1976 Photo courtesy of Arista Records

1. Chris Brubeck Concert, 1995 – Weir Farm, Wilton, CT

2. New York Mary Concert – Boston, MA

3. Benny Goodman Concert – 1973 – Royal Albert Hall, London, England

2 Comments

  1. Joe, My brother Bob served with you at Ft. Wadsworth. He mentioned you many times as both a great musician and great guy. He is living in New Port Richey, FL and his E-Mail is : BOBSTUGOTS@yahoo.com

  2. Hi Joe. Longtime no see. I remember the Army Band – kind of, and Donald Hahn. I ended up playing avant garde jazz – Anthony Braxton, Dave Liebman, Oliver Lake, Syzygy and M13. I quit playing drums almost twenty years ago to concentrate on piano and teaching jazz studies at state college and university in Washington and Idaho. I have very fond memories of you. I’ve heard recordings of you over the years. You a playing great. I keep in touch with guitar player Lou Volpe (Volpecella), Fred Eckler and Vinny Ruggieri. Sadly Vinny passed last year. Love ya brother. Hope all goes well. Tom Kelly

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