by Lola Rossi-Meza

The Ted Herman Big Band featuring Frank DiSalvo performs this season at the Indian Wells Resort Hotel

Saxophonist and big band leader Ted Herman will be performing every Sunday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the lobby lounge next to the restaurant called “Frank’s Place” in the Indian Wells Resort Hotel located at 76-661 Highway 111 in Indian Wells. Call (760) 345-6466 ext. 7584 for dinner reservations. There is plenty of room for dancing. If you arrive early, you can take the complimentary dance lessons presented by Carl Davis from 5:15 p.m. until 6 p.m. There is an Entertainment Fee for the band of $10 with cocktails, appetizers and dinner available for purchase.

The members of the Ted Herman Band featuring Frank DiSalvo include: vocalists Lee Hartley and Larry Capeloto; pianist Alex Danson; guitarist Steve Crowell; bassist Larry Holloway; Doug Dean on drums; Vito Pizzo, first tenor saxophone; Norm Smith, second tenor saxophone; Herman, first alto saxophone; Alex Roseff, second alto saxophone; Charlie Williams, baritone saxophone; Don Clark, first trumpet; Brad White, second trumpet; Dave Skersick, third trumpet; Kenny Meier, first trombone; Eric Lindstrum, second trombone; and John Leys, bass trombone.

Last week, Sunday, September 16, Ted Herman celebrated the 50th anniversary of his 39th birthday with “Happy Birthday” sung by special guest “Marilyn Monroe” portrayed by impersonator Catlyn Day. “I stood there with my mouth wide open,” said Herman. “I never expected that, I was so surprised.“

Born in Stockton, California, Herman started playing oboe, English horn and piccolo when he was in grammar school. In high school he played saxophone with the Hal Harris Band and performed at various dances and private parties. Still playing music, he received a degree in electrical engineering with a music minor from College of the Pacific, now the University of Pacific.

In 1943, he was drafted in the Army as a Radio Operator. He met pianist and arranger Page Cavanaugh at a battalion party and had an opportunity to sit in with the band and play the sax. Cavanaugh immediately put in a request to have Herman transferred to special services as part of the Army Band. “Our battalion was scheduled for a shipment to Africa at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, however, at 2:30 p.m., the orders came through for the transfer that same day, and I finished out my service in the Army Band. I am a musician today because of my dear friend. He taught me that music should come from the heart.”

After the service, clarinetist Barney Bigard got Herman a job playing and touring with Louis Armstrong and his band. Later, he was part of the contract band at Paramount Studios. “I played on the soundtrack of the John Wayne movie, Fort Ticonderoga. I also played with the Stan Kenton band three different times. That is when I found out my father, Marvin Herman played tenor sax and had his own band in my hometown but he stopped playing in 1933. I finally confronted him, so he told me a story, not suitable for print,” Herman chuckled. “But I have to say, I played with the best jazz band of 1946 and that was with Spade Cooley.”

There was a new town springing up in Nevada and the lure of a new job brought Herman to Las Vegas. “I played at The Last Frontier when it opened in 1946 and then The New Frontier in 1953 and again when it was re-named The Frontier in 1981.”

In 1963, he and his family moved to the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. His job was to coordinate and manage the relief band for seven different casinos. “That meant I had to have a base band of thirteen musicians to as high as sixty-four musicians, if we had an entertainer who used strings. I worked in seven different casinos everyday of the week, seven nights a week. I never took a day off. We would perform for Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbra Streisand, Elvis, Liza Minelli, Henry Mancini and all the major stars who worked at the casinos in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area from 1963 to 1983.”

In 1983, Herman decided to retire from the music business and relocated in Hemet. In 1988 he moved to the Palm Springs area and the rest is history. “I’m glad I’m old. I lived through the greatest time of music. It went from Dixieland, Swing, Jazz and even Rock and Roll. All of that time I played what I enjoyed for over 600 top notch entertainers. Now in my life, I stay young with Alice, my sexy red head and a great band. I have lived a very good life.”

You can contact Ted Herman at (760) 774-7459

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