Andy Tipaldi, banjo player (1894-1969)

Photograph of Andy Tipaldi

Banjo player Andy Tipaldi is believed to have been born in New York in 1894. He and his brother John, a violinist, arrived in Montréal around 1917, with an orchestra of White musicians, to play at the Jardin de Danse. In 1921, the two brothers joined the Melody Kings, a group whose membership varied between five and nine players, according to its engagements. John Tipaldi wrote the ensemble's arrangements. Over the years, the group's roster included pianist Billy Munro, drummer Rob Roy, trombonist Al Gagnon, trumpeters Harry Louci, Rip Doucette and Robert Rochon, and saxophonists Léo Dufault and Alex Lajoie. In 1923, the Tipaldi brothers took over the management of the ensemble, which they renamed the Melody Kings Dance Orchestra. The new band held the stage at various venues in Montréal, including the Jardin de Danse, Chez Maurice Danceland, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (1925). The ensemble also played regularly on the radio station CKAC (1924).

The Melody Kings recorded about 40 pieces of music between 1923 and 1924 for the Montréal company His Master's Voice, as well as a 1926 recording, Andy Tipaldi & His Orchestra, for the Starr label. Andy Tipaldi played with the Ritz-Carlton orchestra and with Billy Munro's orchestra before disbanding the Melody Kings in 1928. In the stock market crash of November 1929, Andy Tipaldi lost much of the money he had made in real-estate speculation. He subsequently managed a club (although unsuccessfully) and worked to revive the American Federation of Musicians local 406, which he headed from 1942 until his death in Montréal, in May of 1969.

Selected recordings available

To find more recordings, go to Search Virtual Gramophone. Enter in All fields tipaldi AND under "Show advanced search options" select Digital content MP3.

Source: Unpublished research notes by Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal

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