Al Cass

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Al Cass (born Alfred Stephen Cascianelli on September 7, 1923- died August 23, 1989) was an inventor, performer, trumpeter, manufacturer and consultant to other brass musicians.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Youngest of nine children(Anna, Isadore, Mary, Louis, Rita, Hellen, Alba, and Concetta) of Italian immigrants who came to America and settled in Milford, Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century. Later the name was changed to "Cassinelli" by an older sibling, a fad of the day to enable other immigrants to spell and pronounce the name more easily. Though both parents did not agree to the name change thus kept their original last name. He asked his mother for a horn at age 12 after hearing Harry James on the radio.

President four years class of 1941 Milford High School. Had own orchestra by age 14 performing at Proms/weddings and area clubs notably the Crystal Room a club frequented by many touring legends of the day whom he met and was inspired by.

Entered into World War II as a machine gunner after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Along with 2 older brothers, Isadore and Louis. An older sister Rita went to Detroit to become a "Rosy the Riviter". Alfred took his trumpet with him and was seen playing. He was immediately transferred into Special Services touring the European theater performing for troops who were awaiting the arrival of Hollywood's Andrews Sisters, Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney among others. He left service as Private 1st class.

Career[edit]

After the War, the reformed "Al Cass Orchestra" toured the East Coast befriending fellow band leaders such as Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Stan Kenton, some whom he first met earlier at the Crystal room before World War II. Following an important gig to which members of his orchestra failed to show up, he ended his tour as a band leader and returned home to care for his ailing father Stephano Cascianell (d.1952) Stephano had been a stone cutter at one of Milford's famous Pink granite quarries.

It was at this time that Al built a workshop in the two-car garage next to his family home, opened his high school physics book and began work on his long time idea for a mouthpiece that would enable brass musicians to play more than just their declared instrument of choice using the same embouchure. After several years of research and development, he invented "doubling" mouthpieces for brass musicians which he patented with Patent # 2,917,964.

He was a mouthpiece consultant, manufacturer of brass mouthpieces for trumpeter Jazz musician, creator of bebop John Birks Dizzy Gillespie and many other legends from the Big Band era. His clientele reads like a "who's who" of trumpeters, most notably from the jazz generation Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Harry Sweets Edison, Booker Little, Blue Mitchell, Buck Clayton and Doc Cheatham.

He was the manufacturer/creator of Al Cass "FAST" valve/slide/key oil combination for Brass instruments, which has been considered the industry standard since inception. It was developed after 18 months of R&D at the request and final approval of Dizzy Gillespie.

Later personal life[edit]

In 1980 his mother Josephine, died at 99 years of age, and was told by his own physicians he had just 5% of his liver with just months to live. He purchased a home away from his business and older surviving siblings, and taught his son Stephen (b. 1968) the business. By 1981 he stopped making mouthpieces and left his son Stephen in control of oil production. He stopped going to his "factory" on a regular basis to spend more time with his youngest son Joseph (b. 1977). A third son, Alfred the 2nd, was born in 1982. Fearing the end was near, he spent most of his time designing his two youngest sons a backyard in the tradition of Walt Disney.

For several years, up until his death, he was working on a portable water-saving irrigation system for crop production in drought-ridden areas of the world.

References[edit]

  • [1] Patent info
  • [2] close up of Dizzy Gillespie King Silver Flair trumpet at Smithsonian with Al Cass mouthpiece
  • [3] page 1 AL Cass brochure/flyer(double click to supersize)
  • [4] page 2 AL Cass brochure/flyer(double click to supersize)
  • [5] Guernseys Jazz Auction. Scroll down to page 11.

External links[edit]

  • [6] Player Horn & Mouthpiece Combinations
  • [7] Dizzy Gillespie KING Silver Flair & Al Cass mouthpiece on display at the Smithsonian Institution
  • [8] Al Cass clients/photo's/brochures
  • Guernsey's auction at the Wayback Machine (archived July 11, 2011) (scroll to page 11, this feature does not appear to work in reference section above)