Armand Olevano Jr. never earned a degree at SUNY Broome, but he spent decades on campus, helping shape students’ musical education with his soulful trumpet.
Olevano, who died in December at the age of 71, played with SUNY Broome’s Jazz Ensemble for 34 years, as well as bands throughout the region and in his winter home of Sarasota, Florida. On May 16, SUNY Broome will hold a tribute jazz concert in Olevano’s memory, featuring Manhattan Brass’ Tony Kadleck on trumpet.
A graduate of Union-Endicott High School, Olevano served in the Army and worked in a range of jobs, but his real passion was music. He played in Dean of Liberal Arts Michael Kinney’s 15-piece jazz band, the Jazz Exchange, as well as the Maine and Endicott community bands, the Melody Masters, the Kirby Band and his own group, Night Sounds. Look to Florida and his list of musical engagements grows even longer: Gentlemen of Jazz, Savory Swing, the Southshore Brass Quintet and, again, his own Sophisticated Swing Band.
“His whole trumpet education was developed by playing for numerous groups — small bands and big bands; that’s how he learned things,” Dr. Kinney remembered.
He first met Olevano in 1983, when he was still new to SUNY Broome and playing jazz trumpet in the community. The two were hired to play a church gig for Easter – Olevano on lead trumpet, a rare gift.
“That’s a player who plays the stratospheric high notes that give the band energy, and very few people can do that,” Dr. Kinney said. “In the music world, there’s a saying: Lead players are born and not made. He had a natural gift for that.”
Community members play an integral part in SUNY Broome’s bands and choruses, sharing their talents for the love of the art. Olevano was among them: a musical member of the larger campus community who learned from each of the teachers and conductors he worked with along the way.
“He would go to the rehearsals and helped move equipment. When we had our jazz artist guests — Maynard Ferguson and Doc Severinsen, and others from New York City – Armand was always there to help with the arrangements. He did all of this because he loved doing it,” Dr. Kinney said. “All of the students benefited from his willingness to help out.”
It’s fitting that Tony Kadleck will be the featured soloist during the May 16 concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in SUNY Broome’s Angelo Zuccolo Little Theatre. Admission is $5 for the general public and free for students.
A Binghamton native, Kadleck is one of the most sought-after trumpet players in the state, and has performed and recorded with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Elton John and the Boston Pops.
Dr. Bob Pompi, formerly the physics chair at Binghamton University and a former member of Dr. Kinney’s Jazz Exchange band, is making the arrangements, and Olevano’s wife and son plan to attend. Dr. Mike Dubaniewicz, a SUNY Broome instructor who is internationally famous in his own right, will direct.
Interestingly enough, Olevano and Dr. Kinney had played trumpet during Tony Kadleck’s wedding reception years ago at the Sons of Italy in Endicott – just one strand in a web of connection, linking diverse individuals into the larger jazz community.