By the time you read this, Montauk resident and WW II veteran Pat DeRosa will have been inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame for the year 2021. A saxophonist extraordinaire whose comprehensive talent includes mastery of other musical instruments like the oboe and clarinet, Pat DeRosa embraces music of every style and era.
In the 1940s he played swing with the Tommy Tucker Orchestra and other Big Bands. Fast-forward 60 years to NYC’s Bitter End, where you’ll find Pat wailing the blues with Billy Joel’s saxophonist Richie Cannata in a duet that ignited intense applause from the audience. Pat was creating great music in Montauk, too, bringing his friends from the world of jazz to play on the East End. When the famous Toots Thielmans performed his legendary harmonica on a stage near Gosman’s, he brought the house down.
Pat taught music to high schoolers by day and managed his own group, the Pat DeRosa Orchestra, by night and on weekends. Bringing musical joy to civic organizations, nursing homes, and hotels and restaurants celebrating weddings, etc., Pat also played music in his later years on cruise ships, winning over a brand-new listening audience. It was a wonderful way to travel and see the world with his beloved wife and biggest fan, Constance Dennis.
Several years ago the archives at the Montauk Library scanned photographs from Pat’s early years, a few of which appear in frames behind Pat in this week’s TBT photograph. Scenes of soldiers in the Army Air Force band hamming it up or jamming together to make music are filled with nostalgia. Other photos capture the inky, noir beauty of New York City nightclubs where Pat played, the grit and glitter of the Copacabana and the Paramount. Digital shots of Pat playing with Richie Cannata, or accompanying Mike DelGiudice and Big Shot on “Just the Way You Are,” are equally compelling. In these images Pat DeRosa, already in his 90s, is sitting on stage and swaying with his sax, a singular stream of energy and inspiration. Music continues to be DeRosa’s Fountain of Youth.
December 6, 2020 will mark Pat DeRosa’s 99th birthday. Please join the Montauk Library in congratulating this iconic gentleman on an almost-centenarian life well-lived, and on his induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. The induction, which fittingly took place on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, is posted below. You can also watch Pat play sax with Big Shot while the crowd goes wild!