Andy Sannella

article - Andy Sannella

Anthony GeorgeAndySannella (March 11, 1900 – December 10, 1962) was an American musician and bandleader.

Andy Sannella in the mid-1930s.

Andy Sannella was born in Brooklyn, NY.[1] His father Anthony and mother Lucia[2] were both Italian immigrants. Sannella was a multi-instrumentalist; according to jazz historian John Chilton he played violin, piano, organ, clarinet, alto saxophone, guitar (preferably steel guitar), banjo and vibraphone. Occasionally he also appeared as a singer.

. . . Andy Sannella . . .

Sannella began his musical studies on guitar and violin at the age of ten. When he was fourteen, his father died; several years later, Andy decided to leave school and join the military.[3] He was turned down at first because he was underage, but was finally able to join the Navy.[4] After serving in the US Navy during World War I, Sannella spent the years 1920–1922 in Panama City working on violin and alto saxophone with various orchestras. He then settled in New York City where he played with the bands of Dan Gregory, Mike Markel and – not least – Ray Miller. With the latter orchestra Sannella seems to have made his first recordings during the years 1923–1925. On these recordings (which also feature jazz notables such as Frank Trumbauer and Miff Mole) Sannella is mainly featured on clarinet and alto saxophone, but is also heard soloing on bass clarinet on I Can’t Get The One I Want (Brunswick 2643).

The label of an issue of Sannella’s composition Needin’ You on the Van Dyke label.

From the late 1920s onwards Sannella seems to have focused more and more on working as a studio musician rather than appearing with regular working bands. He was very much in demand and was hired by many conductors leading “house bands” for various record companies, including Nat Shilkret and Leonard Joy (both Victor Records), Ben Selvin (Columbia Records), Adrian Schubert (Banner Records and associated labels) and Bert Hirsch (Hit of the Week Records). Sannella also appears on several recordings directed by Sam Lanin, but it is not clear whether he also appeared with this orchestra on stage. In addition to working with larger orchestras Sannella also appeared with many smaller studio groups accompanying popular singers of the time such as Art Gillham, Cliff Edwards, Frank Crumit, Seger Ellis and Johnny Marvin.

In many of the orchestras listed above Sannella was working with the same basic core of fellow musicians, among these not least trumpet player Mike Mosiello, from whom Sannella seems to have been virtually inseparable during these years, and of whom he still spoke very highly in an interview shortly before his death. Amongst many other things Mosiello and Sannella (together with accordionist Charles Magnante) formed the nucleus of the prolific house band of the Grey Gull Company of Boston during the years 1926–1930. In addition to performing the popular tunes of the day Mosiello and Sannella were allowed to wax several instrumental numbers of their own, often appearing as B-sides on the company’s “pop” records. On these records Sannella is mainly featured playing alto saxophone, clarinet and steel guitar, often switching between all these instruments during the same number and thus giving them a very special noticeable sound. An article in the Milwaukee Journal from 1929 also lists: the accordion, violin, and ukulele among the twelve instruments he played. Journal Songs credited to Sannella himself issued by Grey Gull include Needin’ You and Sleeping Birds.

. . . Andy Sannella . . .

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