LEW DEL GATTO
For years, I was looking to go back to a rubber mouthpiece. When I first met Theo, he wasn’t making a rubber mouthpiece and I told him I loved what he did for me, but I was anxious to play a hard rubber piece. So I was extrememly happy when he was able to manufacture hard rubber mouthpieces! I am now playing a GAIA 7* Tenor Hard Rubber Mouthpiece and I LOVE IT!! It responds in all registers, tunes well and is even from top to bottom. Best of all it lets me sound like me! I have gotten feedback from fellow sax players who have played with me over the years and they all have liked the sound of the GAIA very much.
The versatile Lew Del Gatto has been a dynamic figure in the New York music scene for over thirty years. His versatility and knowledgeable comprehension of musical art-form was the basis for a stellar career. He has been involved with jingles, films, jazz and television. He has been a saxophonist with the Saturday Night Live Band from the show’s beginning in 1975 to 1979. He continued back on the show from 1985 until 2005. Besides his contributions on bari sax and woodwinds, Lew was also involved as an arranger and contractor on this illustrious show.
A native of New York, Lew's musical abilities were obvious at an early age. Lew's father played the saxophone. The music of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman was forever in the Del Gatto home. Lew quickly gravitated towards the music of Bird, Prez, Getz and Rollins. During his training at Manhattan School of Music, Lew went on the road with the Les Elgart Band, Sal Salvador and appeared with the world famous Johnny Carson Tonight Show Band. For many years, Lew was busy in the New York studio world with such clients as Coke, Pepsi, Folgers Coffee, Ford and Burger King. He was not only a player in these jingles - he also arranged and composed some of them as well.
Lew has also been busy in the film industry. His credits include: The Blues Brothers, My Blue Heaven, Naked Gun 2 1/2 and others. T.V. show credits include the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the New Show and Steve Martin's Best Show Ever. He is on numerous recordings for such artists as Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, Bette Midler, Cal Tjader, the Brecker Brothers, Quincy Jones, Stanley Turrentine, Harry Connick,Jr., Buddy Guy, Mariah Carey...the list goes on and on. He is a featured performer on the "G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band" CD, Phil Woods Big Band “Celebration”, and on George Young's CD, "Old Times".
Lew's live appearances are impressive. He has appeared with many giants in the music world, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minelli, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Chuck Israel and The National Jazz Ensemble, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Henry Mancini, Herbie Hancock, Phil Woods, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, to name a few. Lew has played jazz festivals in Europe as well as locally. He appeared at the Cancun Jazz Festival with his own trio, as well as with George Young and Friends. He performed annually for over a decade at the Delaware Water Gap Festival of the Arts. In the summer of 1998 and 2000 Lew toured Europe with Phil Woods and the Festival Orchestra.
Lew can be heard on his own CDs. "Katewalk", on Naxos which has received rave reviews and made it to number 13 on the Gavin charts, featuring Victor Lewis, Steve Turre, Randy Brecker, Chip Jackson, Joe Cohn and Ron Feuer. "You and the Night and the Music", is a romantic jazz CD recorded with Ron Feuer. “Heroes Vol I” is one of his latest CDs which is an homage encompassing music of many of the saxophonists he has been inspired by through the years. “To Al & Zoot…with Love” is just that and is the newest CD performed with his buddy of many years, Bob Keller, along with Tom Whaley, Tony Marino and Jesse Green all from the Gap area. All of Lew’s musical roads have paved the way for what is yet to come – his total devotion to jazz. Lew has always been intricately entwined in the music world in various mediums but his first love is jazz... that is what he plays at every possible moment and where his best instrumental voice can be heard.
Why did you choose to become a musician?
Becoming a musician was something I was compelled to do. Music has been a part of my life since I was a child.
My father was an amateur musician and listened to all the great swing bands of the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s. He played gigs in Brooklyn when I was as infant and I’m told that I was in a carriage next to the bandstand even then.
What is your experience when you feel connected into the music?
When I feel connected to the music, I am lost in the sound and feeling of what’s going on around me. It feels great.
What is your experience of when you don't feel connected to your music?
Ouch!! That’s when everything feels disjointed.
Where does your inspiration comes from? What does it feel like?
My inspiration comes from the music itself and all of the great players that have come before me. It is a catalyst for what I strive to do.
What is your experience while improvising? Does it relate to any spirituality you may practice in your life?
If everything is right with the band and the sound, improvising feels effortless and natural....everything flows. The spirituality comes from the music itself.
Where does your inspiration while composing come from? What is your experience of that inspiration like?
Composing is similar to improvising – the music takes me to where it wants to go, it just flows.
Do you have any fun stories of inspirational moments to share?
When I was playing with the Saturday Night Live Band on the SNL 25th Anniversary show, we had to play for Al Green. His travel to the show was messed up so he didn’t make the rehearsal. The band sounded really good playing his music, but, when he did arrive, just in time for air and finally performed – his presence and vibe and performance lifted the show to an unbelievably high level. What an inspiring ride that was!