Cultural Percussionist

Johnny Frigo Day

Johnny Frigo (December 27, 1916 – July 4, 2007) was an American jazz violinist and bassist. He first appeared in the 1940s as a violinist before working as a bassist. He returned to the violin in the 1980s and enjoyed a comeback, recording several albums as a leader.

Frigo died at age 90 of complications from a fall. He had been battling cancer, according to some reports of his death.

Frigo was born in Chicago and studied violin for three years beginning at age 7. In high school he started to play double bass in dance orchestras. In 1942 he played with Chico Marx‘s orchestra and performed a comedy routine on violin with Marx on piano.[1] He entered the United States Coast Guard during World War II and played in a band on Ellis Island with Al Haig and Kai Winding.

After a brief turn at active service near the end of the war he moved to New Jersey. He toured with Jimmy Dorsey‘s band from 1945 to 1947, later forming the Soft Winds trio with Dorsey’s guitarist Herb Ellis and pianist Lou Carter. During this time he wrote the music and lyrics to “Detour Ahead”,which has been recorded by Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans, and Carola. During that time, he also wrote the sardonic swing tune “I Told Ya I Love Ya Now Get Out” which was recorded by June Christy and the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Chicago jazz vocalist Erin McDougaldrecorded the song 50 years later on her album The Auburn Collection (2004).

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