Growing up with Tommy Tedesco
Growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80s, we lived with a legend and we didn’t know it. The legend was just dad to us and he went to work like every other dad except he played guitar for a living. He recorded for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. From Elvis to Cher, and from the Beach Boys to the 5th Dimension. At one point, they called him the most recorded guitarist in the music business.
I never saw my father play the guitar at home until the late 70s when he started playing for himself. He recorded albums under his own name in the 70s/80s and continued to work in the studios.
In the early 90s, our father was slowing down in the recording studios. It was a change that wasn’t frustrating for him. He had a great take on it. He felt his time as a session player was like being an athlete in the majors. Sooner or later, someone would have to replace him.
His playing did not diminish. He was a better player at 60 than he was as a 25. His chops were off the charts and he still had the drive and the love of his instrument.
In 1992, I had an idea to see if we could create a Italian Samba Band and find a corporate sponsor to underwrite the costs of a tour. Obviously we were looking to an Italian Liquor company or pasta maker.
At the same time, my brother Damon was studying recording and mixing at LMU. Our goal was to record 3 songs with this wonderful Italian Samba Band and take it to one of these Italian companies for help. Frank Morocco on Accordion, Vincent Trombetta on Saxophones, Vinnie Colaiuta on Drums, Bob Zimmitti on Percussion, and Jennifer Leitham on Bass. The only person without a vowel in her last name was “Leitham”.
Our mother, Carmie provided the lunch meat with the Italian bread and the musicians were in heaven.
After the songs were recorded with the band, our father decided to have Damon record just the Bass and the Guitar. So Jennifer and our father ran through a live set. No overdubs, just straight through. It only took an hour.
Everyone walked away from the session feeling good about it. But a few months later, our dad had a massive stroke. He lost much of his right hand technique and his playing days were over. It wasn’t until this last year that we decided to revisit this recording. Probably because it was painful to know it was his last solo recording for himself.
But after 22 years, we’re happy to finally release it. And I hope we named it appropriately, “The Best for Last”. – Denny Tedesco
“The Best for Last” was a my Senior recording project at Loyola Marymount University in 1990. My assignment was to record a “band.” Wow what a band it was! It was incredible! I was nervous to record such professionals. It was an amazingly supportive and fun session. My instructor and mentor John Weaver was like a rock to me during the recording. I was able to get the 3 Italian songs down with just a few takes each. We were recording to 24 track 2 inch analog tape. It is strange to think of a time when track count was important to a recording session. This master recording sat in a tape box for 24 plus years until I had to have this delicate tape “baked” in order to be able to transfer to the protools digital editing software. I recently remixed them on my system at my studio. What a treat to be able to do a remix on material that I recorded over 20 years ago. – Damon Tedesco
Produced by Damon Tedesco and Denny Tedesco
Recorded and mixed by Damon Tedesco
Recorded at Loyola Marymount University
Associate Professor Head of the Recording Arts Program: John Weaver
Assistant engineer: Gary Vincent
Tommy Tedesco: Guitar, Mandolin
Frank Morocco – Accordion
Jennifer Leitham: Bass
Vincent J. Trombetta: Saxophones
Vinnie Colaiuta: Drums
Bob Zimmitti: Percussion