Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

EMIL PAOLUCCI: “THE MAESTRO”

Professionally, he was known as Emil Powell. Some even called him “Maestro.” But we knew him as Emil Paolucci. He was of the neighborhood.

Emil kept the music playing for a long, long time. He was eightyeight when he died over the weekend in Florida.

As a bandleader and gifted sideman, Emil Paolucci accompanied our seasonal celebrations and courting rites in dance halls and pavilions, at country clubs and cotillions, outdoors at Hudson Park on warm summer nights, in theaters, recording studios, and concerts and church socials in musty school gymnasiums. And always at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and charity dinners.

He played with the big national touring bands and with local music makers like George Hoffman, Ben Cutler, and Hank Carletti. He was there at the Water Wheel and Abe Levine’s Larchmont Lodge and for Friday night dances at the Westchester Country Club and the Larchmont Yacht Club.

Emil was always true to the great American classic songwriters. He loved Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Johnny Burke, and Johnny Mercer. The man was a lover and enjoyed playing romantic ballads with the sweet, simple lyrics we could understand and dance to.

He also knew obscure material like “You Are Too Beautiful,” an exquisite composition by Rodgers and Hart, known only to musicians, as well as a tender song written by Frank Sinatra and Phil Silvers called “Nancy with the Laughing Face.”

Emil played just for you. Some climb up on stage to perform and emote. It’s all about basking in the spotlight. But with Paolucci, it was all about the audience having a good time.

He traveled to every state in the Union. But he always came home to Westchester. And he was happiest in that band shell at Hudson Park, with his neighbors listening on blankets or folding camp chairs, as his music drifted out over Long Island Sound on soft, agreeable summer nights.

All of us treasure the music in our lives. We revere and celebrate the musicians who make it, the minstrels of the night. Emil Paolucci,

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