Veteran Chicago violinist Johnny Frigo died yesterday of complications from a fall in his condo two weeks ago. Although he was trained on the violin, he switched to the bass early in his career, and while he worked under Jimmy Dorsey and Chico Marx his most steady work came from sessions, particularly radio and TV commercials. He made a handful of records as a leader over the years—all but 1957’s I Love Johnny Frigo, He Swings were made after 1988 when he returned to the violin exclusively—and he was still actively performing, although he hadn’t played locally in two years. Here’s a story I wrote in March of 2002, when some of the session albums Frigo had made for choreographer Gus Giordano as records for dance instructors were reissued by the hip California label Ubiquity.
In other news, the first Chicago Salsa Festival kicks off tonight with a bang; the great New York trombonist and bandleader Jimmy Bosch, a prime mover behind the “salsa dura” (hard salsa) movement, performs at Excalibur. Also in town tonight is the powerful Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez; he plays Enemy.