Carmine D'Amico Ensemble
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Carmine D'Amico Ensemble


Band Jazz Rock


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"Carmine D'Amico Ensemble"

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"All About Jazz"

Carmine D'Amico is a studio and performance musician whose outstanding musical legacy and credits are too numerous to cover totally in this brief biographical sketch. I was fortunate to meet and get to know him through his association with my oldest brother, Richie Pratt. Carmine and Richie are still great friends and worked together often on various sessions in New York. Interacting with Carmine D'Amico is like getting a master class about the life of a musician. This is a two part musing, with the first part featuring Carmine's background. The second part will contain the artist interview questions and Carmine's quoted answers.
About Carmine

His skills have been showcased on stage, on records, in movie and television soundtracks, and on commercials that most of us have heard and taken for granted. As a multi-Grammy winner, Carmine represents “THE school” of music, in which the ability to successfully play one's part has been the key to outstanding performance. In today's music world, where it is sometimes sufficient to merely know a few chords and licks in order to make a recording, Carmine stands out as a true student of music and an incredible talent whose flexibility and ability are legendary!

The Early Years

”...Make each note a diamond.” That's what his father, Joseph D'Amico, said to him when he was seven years old. He gave Carmine the choice of playing either the piano or the guitar. Carmine has never forgotten those words. The senior D'Amico also told him not to be concerned about how many notes he played when he would solo, but that each note must have meaning. He would sit with Carmine every night, teaching him various musical styles, reading skills, guiding him, and encouraging him to be the best musician he could be. Joe D'Amico was a perfectionist and he instilled that quality in Carmine. Sometimes it's a burden, but it's always motivating. At age 9, Carmine recorded “Who Wears Short Shorts,” and it became a big hit. He was then signed to Capitol Records and went on tour. Performances included American Bandstand with Dick Clark, The Allen Fried Show, Soul Train, as well as concerts. Carmine ultimately wound up doing ‘50s hit records at the ages of 9, 10, and 11 with the Shirelles, Connie Francis, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and others. When Carmine was in school, he won Academic scholarships to both high school and college. He graduated valedictorian of Trinity High School with a 99.9 average. Carmine found himself pre-med because his father was not confident that anyone could make a living in the music business. Carmine's father wanted him to be a doctor. However, when his professors found the young man composing songs during his classes, they suggested that he do what really made him happy - music. With his father's blessings, Carmine left medical school, transferred to Queens College and majored in music. Despite the fact that he could not attend classes regularly, as he was touring with a variety of performers including - Tammy Grimes, Liza Minelli and Ed Ames, Carmine nonetheless managed to graduate with an “A” average, and received his B.A. in Music Education.

Military Bands

Upon graduating college during the Viet Nam era, Carmine's military service eligibility status immediately changed to a “1-A” draft classification. He entered military service and was accepted into an assignment with a special Army Dance Band. He had no idea that he was going to be stationed in Viet Nam and Guam; or, that he would be working with Bob Hope and a wide variety of other performers supporting troop morale via USO shows. Carmine returned to New York upon honorably completing his tour of duty and resumed his career activities, first joining Ed Ames.

Musician To The Stars

While with Ames, Carmine recorded with the artist on two of his biggest hits, “Try To Remember,” and “My Cup Runneth Over.” When Ames got called to co-host with Mike Douglas on his nationwide television show, he brought Carmine along with him. Carmine was asked to continue on the show as staff guitarist. He remained in that post for about three years. During this same period, Carmine met Emory Davis, son of society bandleader, Meyer Davis. He worked for Davis doing “society parties” all over the world. When Davis took over as contractor of the Westbury Music Fair, Carmine also worked with Bobby Darrin (”Mack, the Knife”), Sergio Franchi, Patti Austin, Englebert Humperdinck (with whom he recorded “After The Loving”), Vic Damone, Manhattan Transfer, Shirley Maclaine, Henry Mancini, Michele Legrande, Bernadette Peters, The Pointer Sisters, The O'Jays, Jack Jones, Lainie Kazan, Elisa Kashi, and Connie Francis. As you see, Carmine has had the great fortune of working with many of the finest musicians in the world, most commonly known among these include: Bernard Purdie, Steve Gadd, Ron Carter, John Faddis, Lou Marini, Lionel Hampton, Teo Macero, Bob Cranshaw, Tom Barney, John Frosk, Doc Severinsen, Jack French, Angelo - The New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music

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Biography by Steve Huey
Carmine D'Amico carved out a niche in the music business primarily as a session guitarist, beginning his career by playing on the Royal Teens' hit "Short Shorts" at the tender age of nine. After several sessions with Brill Building teen idols like Connie Francis and Frankie Avalon, D'Amico returned to his schoolwork, eventually becoming a music major at Queens College in New York. D'Amico and his bass-playing younger brother Chris became two of the top studio musicians in the city, which also led to several touring engagements. After graduating, D'Amico was drafted into the Army, where he worked with Bob Hope and other USO performers in Vietnam and Guam. Upon his return, D'Amico became the staff guitarist on The Mike Douglas Show, and also worked at the Westbury Music Fair. In 1976, D'Amico received one of his highest profile gigs, the soundtrack to the legendary disco film Saturday Night Fever. This helped lead to additional work with a variety of R&B and urban contemporary artists over the next several years. From there, D'Amico began concentrating on TV and commercial work, also recording with several traditional pop performers. In 2003, D'Amico issued the first album under his own name; The Carmine D'Amico Ensemble,and delved into blues-flavored jazz-rock.

- Steve Huey

"Being a studio guitarist"

Editors Note: This month's guest contribution is by New York Studio Guitarist Carmine D'Amico. His song Angel is also reviewed this month in this newsletter.
For anyone who is not familiar with the rigors of become a studio guitarist, let me share a few things. This occupation is truly one of the hardest applications of playing guitar you can choose. It is not enough to be able to play different styles of music, you must be able to play them on demand. And if the producer says we are going to play in a certain style, you better be ready.
You do not get much time to become familiar with a new song, you are expected to be able to sit down, read some musical notation or possibly charts and play the song. Did I mention you will be surrounded with other musicians that will expect at least the same level of skill they put out?
One of the hardest aspects of this job is the sight reading requirements. It is not enough to be able to read music and stitch together the song. You must be able to show up, look at the sheet music and start to play. Did I mention mistakes are not long tolerated? There are good reasons these musicians knock down the big bucks.
All in all this is a very difficult way to make a living. When you meet a studio guitarist, you are in the company of a rare animal. There is much to be learned.

By Carmine D'Amico
Being a studio guitarist ... what does it take?
1.The ability to sight read anything, and I mean anything, in any style, Classical, Rock, Jazz, Country, Folk, Swing, Punk,Funk, Alternative, Latin and religious music (Christian, Jewish, Gospel, etc).
2. Your sight-reading of a chart has to be locked in with a click track or metronome, in other words, perfect time, not a bit slower or faster than the click, which is in your headphones, along with a mix of yourself, bass, drums, percussion, piano and synthesizer.
3.Your ability to play a classic guitar, steel string roundhole (either Country, or Latin), or Jazz f hole, Guitar and Banjo (in the correct tuning C, G, D, A).
Also Mandolin (in the correct tuning G, D, A, E) and Bass, if necessary in the correct tuning. And you must have the ability to sight read bass clef, as well as treble clef. So where do you start?
1.Start by learning to read treble clef with a metronome. Uncle Tim has a wide selection of wonderful books from beginner to professional. His books are your first starting place.
2.Listen to a wide variety of musical styles, whether or not you personally like them. You can't tell the arranger during a recording session, when you are getting paid 400 dollars an hour, "I don't know how to play this style"!
3.Form a band, or play, even in a rehearsal situation, with bands that play different styles. You might love Blues, but what about Jazz, Swing and R&B?
4.Study with a teacher who is working in music, not someone who used to play live, or in studios. You need to be with someone who is open to all styles of playing.
- Uncle Tim's Newsletter (Uncle Tim is a publisher of exclusively guitar-related material)

"The TCM Forum"

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Carmine D'Amico has earned 24 Grammy awards for his performances on hit recordings by major artists. All the musicians in the band have years of experience performing live and in the studio.

See "Press" for more info. You can hear samples and purchase our current album at the "Discography" URL.