Pianissimo : Carmen
New York born (May of 1913) Carmen Cavallaro spent his formative years as a concert trained pianist. He stylings were full chorded and never lost their melodic sound, and kept many of his classical touches in his pop music feel. His first solid professional job was with the band of Al Kavelin in the mid thirties who recorded for Vocalion and Decca. After Kavelin Cavallaro spent time with Rudy Vallee, Abe Lyman, and Enric Madriguera. He led small combos in the early forties, started a failed big band, and appeared in movie musicals of the mid forties such as "Hollywood Canteen", "Out Of This World", and "Diamond Horseshoe".
Cavallaro began 1946 with an appearance in the motion picture "The Time, The Place, and The Girl" which starred Dennis Morgan and Janis Paige. The film featured music written by Arthur Schwartz and Leo Robin including the songs "Oh But I Do", the hit tune "A Gal In Calico", "A Rainy Night In Rio", and "I Happened To Walk Down First Street". Cavallaro recorded extensively for Decca Records throughout the early forties, but it wasn't until late 1945 that Carmen had a huge hit record for Decca #18677, with the piano instrumental version of "Chopin's Polonaise" which in the vocal version was called "Till The End Of Time" and was a tremendous hit for young singer Perry Como. Cavallaro kept in the public eye also with a radio show called The Shaeffer Parade (his band was succeeded by Eddy Howard) on Sundays for the NBC network. Because of his flowery style he was often called by the nickname as the "poet of the piano".
In 1949 his Decca recording of the song "There's Yes Yes In Your Eyes" which featured vocal by Bob Lido & The Cavaliers got onto the hit charts just briefly, but the next year he had a solid hit recording with the tune "Music Music Music" which was a huge hit for Teresa Brewer. Bob Lido & The Cavaliers again did honors on the vocal and the record on #24881 was a top five best seller. He recorded with former Jimmy Dorsey vocalist Bob Eberle and the king of Decca Records Bing Crosby on "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me" and "I can't Begin To Tell You". Two years later he did an instrumental cover of the British hit tune "Meet Mister Callahan" on #28373 which made the charts in September of 1952. By this time he began to use the extended format of the LP record with Decca. The first albums were "Dancing In The Dark" which were reissues of Decca singles, as was "For Sweethearts Only" and an album of Irving Berlin songs featuring vocalist Dick Haymes.
In 1956 Carmen Cavallaro became world famous for imitating the piano style of someone else. This was the work he did on the soundtrack of the hit film of "The Eddy Duchin Story" (Duchin being played by Tyrone Power) for Columbia Pictures. The soundtrack album for the Decca LP#8289 was a huge hit remaining on the best seller LP list for almost two years and getting to the position of number one seller across the country. Other LPs for Decca followed such as "Cocktails With Cavallaro" and "The King And I-and Other Rogers & Hammerstein Songs". He remained active in music into the sixties where he returned to the concert stage presenting classical and popular melodies. He also concentrated on composing, creating such musical works as "While The Night Wind Sings" and "The Masquerade Waltz".
Carmen Cavallaro remained a piano stylist of intriguing sounds and intricate melodies. That he was never a top recording success did not deter him from presenting his music to the public. He was fortunate enough to make his mark on the Duchin soundtrack, and he was a musician that was the subject of further exploration by eager listeners and they certainly found that search rewarding.
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