Life is like a Jazz Tune
Lost in the music, the improvisation, the smoke-filled room of a jazz club late on a Saturday evening, listen for that gentle trumpet playing, that soft spoken brass instrument, the nimble beauty coming from that gold twisted metal in the delicate hands of Sal Amico."
From top to bottom, it’s gold plated metal twists and turns charmingly like a waterslide with an outlet into an open pool. Floating in the open air is the vibrations of notes from valves being pressed in and out, fast and slow, holding some for a few seconds longer than others. With his perfect embouchure, he places a gentle kiss on the mouthpiece as he settles into position, head high, shoulders back and horn up. The bell of the horn perched high enough in the air that you can see into the midnight of the black hole from your spot in the audience. His hands are wrapped gracefully around the cold metal, and it appears as though they are one single entity, one being in itself. With his eyes closed behind the lenses of his glasses, the moment he begins you already know who he is. Lost in the music, the improvisation, the smoke-filled room of a jazz club late on a Saturday evening, listen for that gentle trumpet playing, that soft spoken brass instrument, the nimble beauty coming from that gold twisted metal in the delicate hands of Sal Amico.
Sal's Lasting Impact
My family and my grandfather's jazz community are still feeling the influence of his career and his trumpet today. To illustrate that, I've included a few quotes coming from his friends and family members that I believe exemplify who he was as a person and that truly show the impact he had on their lives.
Salvatore Amico is the stuff of which legends are made..."
‘Imagine that for a good portion of your life, you looked through glasses that only saw black and white. Sal took the glasses of and I saw in colors.
His playing..had probably steered me towards playing the drums...becoming a musician...I would say it had a pretty big influence on my life.
Sal's Go Out
Anyone who I have ever spoke about my grandfather with tells me how much they wish I could've met him, how influential he was on their lives, and how amazing of a person he was. I don’t know if I will ever be able to articulate the way in which he stamped a mark on the hearts of every person he met, but I know his impact and memory is felt every day by those who had the pleasure of knowing him. Thank you, Grandpa Sal, for making food, family and fine music your way of life.
“Sal made his usual graceful exit. He never would say good-bye. That word was not in his vocabulary.”
Glossary of Jazz Terms
- Cadence- a key-establishing chord progression
- Embouchure-the way in which a play applies their mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or woodwind instrument
- Go Out- To take the final chorus, or end
- Progression-a definite series of chords, forming passage with some harmonic unity or dramatic meaning.
- Triad-A chord of three notes
About the Author
Madi Amico is a first-year student at St. Lawrence University pursuing a double major in English and Communication Studies. She has a deep passion for writing and a large appreciation for music, so this project has allowed her to fuse two things she truly loves into a work of art. In doing this project, she feels as though she was able to "get to know" her grandfather without ever meeting him, and truly feels his presence in her life today.
Amico, Vinnie. Personal Interview. 22 March 2019.
Kover, Jonas. “Jazz Musician Sal Amico Dead at 70.” Utica Observer-Dispatch, April 1998
Roberts, Cindy. “Arts Letter Profile: Sal Amico- A Way of Life.” Arts Letter, vol.18, no. 5, May 1993, pp. 1-6
Piazza Jr., John. "Sal Amico Fan Club." Facebook, 2 May 2010, https://www.facebook.com/Sal-Amico-Fan-Club-113908068646654/. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019.