Pat Riccio

Pat (Patrick Joseph) Riccio. Alto and baritone saxophonist, flutist, arranger, composer, b Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ont, 3 Dec 1918, d Toronto 23 Aug 1982. Pat Riccio was raised in Toronto and began his career in 1939.

Riccio, Pat

Pat (Patrick Joseph) Riccio. Alto and baritone saxophonist, flutist, arranger, composer, b Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ont, 3 Dec 1918, d Toronto 23 Aug 1982. Pat Riccio was raised in Toronto and began his career in 1939. Joining the RCAF in 1941, he served as music director of the RCAF Streamliners, a 15-piece dance band that performed in England for the BBC and, alternating with Glenn Miller's (US) Army Air Force Band, at the Queensbury Club in London. They are said to have been the equal of the dance bands of the US (Glenn Miller) and British (Squadronaires) services.

Returning to Toronto after World War II, Riccio played in, or wrote arrangements for, the local dance bands of Bert Niosi, Mart Kenney, Art Hallman, and others. A pupil of John Weinzweig and Gordon Delamont, Riccio arranged music throughout his career for pop singers (Wally Koster, Patti Lewis, Norma Locke, Billy O'Connor, and others) and for CBC programs. He also wrote songs, jazz themes, and a musical, Pauline.

As a saxophonist, Riccio won polls conducted by CBC radio's 'Jazz Unlimited' in 1947 ('best alto') and 1949 ('best baritone'). He later led big bands and small jazz groups in nightclubs, ballrooms, and concert halls in the Toronto area, and performed with CBC concert parties in Europe and the Middle East. His big band was recorded in 1961 (Arc AS-3001) at the Jubilee Pavilion in Oshawa, its home for several years. His small groups made LPs for Arc, Quality, and CTL; the personnel for the CTL recording (CTLS-071, made in 1965) included the distinguished US jazz musicians Teddy Wilson (piano) and Ed Thigpen (drums), as well as the Toronto bassist Doug Willson.

Riccio's son Pat Riccio Jr played piano in his teens with Bobby Kris and the Imperials, worked during the 1960s in CBC Halifax pop music shows, and was music director 1975-87 for Anne Murray.


Further Reading

  • Norris, John. 'Pat Riccio,' Music Scene, 241, May-Jun 1968

    Litchfield, Jack. The Canadian Jazz Discography 1916-1980 (Toronto 1982)