The legendary Louis Armstrong always said that he’d been born in New Orleans on July 4th, 1900, but a few years after his death it was discovered that he’d actually been born on August 4th, 1901. However, there was at least one local who actually was born in 1900 and went on to become a musical star (although not of the magnitude of Satchmo). That would be clarinetist Tony Parenti, whose long career was memorable for his devotion to the favorite music of many fans; dixieland jazz.
The offspring of Italian immigrants, Anthony Parenti was no doubt influenced by his father’s former experience as a military bandsman when he chose to follow a musical career. First becoming proficient on the violin and later switching to clarinet, he was still in his mid-teens when he began appearing in some of the musical groups that were then popular in New Orleans’ flourishing Italian community. He did so well that he was leading his own band while still a teenager.
By the 1920s he’d also had the opportunity to make a few records, and as his career continued to build he eventually moved to New York, where he spent many years working in everything from popular dance bands to the Radio City Symphony. During the war he was a vital part of the well-regarded Ted Lewis Orchestra, and in the years immediately following he continued to work in some of the best outfits around. He also led groups of his own, and turned more and more to his favorite kind of music – dixieland jazz.
During the 1950s Parenti continued to do well, appearing all over the country with groups like the Dukes of Dixieland and also hitting the recording studio with regularity. For most of the decade of the 1960s he led his own group in a very popular New York club setting. He continued to be active even later, and when he died in 1972 his career had spanned more than five decades.