“94 and Swingin'” – Meet Alto Saxophonist & Composer Vinnie Riccitelli
Meet the oldest up and coming star the world of jazz music has ever seen! His name is Vinnie Riccitelli and he’s the veritable 94-year-old New York City saxophonist and composer. These days he’s promoting his new CD with his octet, and it’s called For the Record.
It’s been 65 years since he released his first and only album into the world. That freshman release came out in 1956. Jazz from The Westchester Workshop was a tasty and inventive album that critics & fans embraced.
“I don’t know how I got this sound. I never wrote anything until I was 30 years old.” said Vinnie recently, “I went to Julliard when I got out of the Navy. My brother was there too. I used to look at this roman numeral system he did for harmony, and it got me interested.”
Vinnie is a self-taught musician that never took a lesson in harmony. He was self-driven and sat at the piano and figured out that roman numeral system. Simply because mathematics made sense to him. From there, a flavor was invented, and he would go on to thrill audiences for decades.
“I worked with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Johnny Mathis. You name it, I’ve been on stage with all these people,” Vinnie noted. “That was only a part of it. Every time someone asked me to go on the road, I said that I had it good here. Why would I go out on the road? I had a family to raise. I have never really been out of work until recently . . . I got too old to play.”
There’s a strong likelihood that most people have never heard of Vinnie. This comes from a musician that played professionally from 1941 to 2018. Over those 77 years, he collected an anthology of stories that is thick with history and one that he is very proud of.
“I spent my whole life making my living doing my hobby. Are you kidding? I don’t regret one minute of it,” Vinnie mused. “Even with the rotten band I had to play with occasionally. It would always be over with at the end of the night.”
For every gig and recording he was a part of, he had a very simple desire as a professional musician.
“I just want people to hear my music. That’s all,” Vinnie said. “If people get joy out of listening to that music, they don’t have to know me. It makes me feel good that they like it.”