Valley Rhythms by Lola Rossi-Meza

Saxophonist and vocalist Pat Rizzo along with pianist and vocalist Patrick Tuzzolino will perform every Sunday from 7 until 11 p.m. in the Purple Room at Club Trinidad, 1900 East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. (760) 327-1161 ext. 230. Rizzo will be telling funny stories, never heard before, of his experiences with Mr. Sinatra, the entire Rat Pack; Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, and what was going on in Palm Springs at that time. It will once again be “Celebrity Night” in Palm Springs.

In 1972, Pat Rizzo auditioned for Frank Sinatra at the Trinidad Hotel in the Purple Room, Sinatra’s favorite hangout. “Jilly Rizzo sent a limo to Los Angeles to pick me up in Hollywood. Î was recording with Sly and the Family Stone at the time. They brought me to Palm Springs and gave me a room at the famous Howard Manor. They took me to the club and put me onstage to blow my horn accompanied by the great pianist Joe Massters. I had no idea at all that I would be playing four feet away from Frank Sinatra and his complete entourage.”

From that night on, Rizzo played all of Sinatra’s parties, including Beau and Ken Venturi’s wedding at Paul D’Amico’s Restaurant. At one New Year’s Eve party at Sinatra’s home, guests included Mayor Wagner of New York, Spiro Agnew, Gregory Peck, Lana Turner Morgana King, Johnny Carson, George Burns and Rizzo even got to dance with Ginger Rogers.

Sinatra called his home to request Rizzo perform with him at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1975. “When he called me, I wasn’t home. I was on my way to record at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. When I got there, they told me ‘Sinatra just called looking for you, stay by the phone.’ When the phone rang, it was the famous Don Costa, who was Sinatra’s musical director and conductor. He told me, ‘You gotta be there, you can’t say no.’ So I left and drove back to my home around the corner from Sinatra’s house.” Rizzo missed the plane at Palm Springs Airport and then had to drive to Ontario.

“When the plane arrived at Las Vegas, I had to carry my luggage and my horns. When I finally got to Caesars Palace, I made my way to the showroom door. As I was walking down toward the stage there were 51 musicians on the stage and Frank stopped the rehearsal and then turned around and said to me, ‘Oh! Where you been?’ Rizzo was a featured soloist.

I was the youngest member in the orchestra I listened and observed everything he did, not to be just like him, but to be myself and develop my own magic. No one had any idea that Sinatra called me to fly to Las Vegas to be included in the Jazz Octet along with the 52-piece orchestra.” The programs in red velvet had to be changed to include Pat Rizzo as the ninth member of the Frank Sinatra Jazz Octet. “I still have the program.”

The music created by Rizzo and Tuzzolino encompasses all the music from the Great American Songbook and more.