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First Person

The Music Man

Al Altieri

A life full of sweet melodies continues to inspire the love of music

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By Felicia L. Niven Photography by Eric Weeks f 76 trombones led the big parade, chances are Al Altieri was there to conduct them. Or at least teach the kids how to play. This former Army trumpeter, a.k.a. resort performer, a.k.a. high school music teacher, a.k.a. inspiration-to-all, is the consummate Music Man. But unlike the fictional Professor Harold Hill of that classic musical, Altieri is the real deal. The fact that he plays 27 instruments and has a storied career alongside such names as Johnny Mathis and Paul Anka gives just a hint to his incredible talent. And while some might argue that his story began on a kitchen table in Manhattan — the actual place where he was born according to his mother — just over eight decades ago, the birth of his musical journey happened on a street corner in the Bronx. At the time, he was just seven. Standing next to his mother as she chatted with a neighbor, Al heard a sound. He followed his natural curiosity to discover the source just down the block. “It was a boy blowing on a bugle,” said Al. “He didn’t really know how to play. He was just making noise. But it intrigued me. I asked him if he wanted to sell it. He said, ‘yeah, give me a quarter.’ Back then, a quarter was a lot of money. I went back and begged my mother. She gave it to me. Then I had to chase down the boy who had gone on to the park. But I found him, gave him the quarter and got the bugle. I took home that bugle, washed it, put it to my lips and made a sound. From that day on, I was in love with a brass instrument.”

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Summer 2016 |

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