Skip to main content

Susquehanna Life

Bobby McCreary Big Band

Jul 26, 2014 04:37PM ● By Erica Shames

Bobby McCreary Big Band

Bobby McCreary’s brother Lew was a legend in his own right. When he died in 1999, he left a legacy behind. The trombone of Lew McCreary has been heard on literally hundreds of recordings spanning a 50-year period--from film scores (such as ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, DINGO with Miles Davis, and more) to television soundtracks (BONANZA, STAR TREK, and more). He played with a vast range of artists--from Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. While Lew was mainly a jazzman, he is prominently featured in the boxed set version of PET SOUNDS by the Beach Boys--regarded as one of the most important albums in rock music history. Lew also played trumpet on at least three Phil Spector sessions in the early 1960s.

Scott Yanow of All Music Guide wrote, "Lew was a huge talent. He was one of the best doublers (tenor and bass trombone) ever. He was also a thoughtful and giving person who helped many young, up-and-coming players with straight and honest advice."

Lew also played with Carmen McCrae, Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire, Nancy Sinatra, Paulinha De Costa, and the Baja Marimba Band (appeared on their LP covers but didn't tour), and on several Monkees sessions--particularly the "hit horn version" of Valleri. He appears in DVDs with Ray Anthony and Barry Gibb's NOW VOYAGER video collection (as back-up musician).

From left: Lew McCreary, trombone; Lou Romano, trumpet; Bobby McCreary, alto sax; Vincent Passalaqua, alto sax. The happy four were returning to Hartford from Torrington, Connecticut, after a job with the Teddy Williams Big Band. It was probably two or three in the morning. The photographer was one of Lou Romano's girl friends. “When we met Lou for the first time he told us that he was the best (theological term) lead trumpet player in the Hartford area,” said Bobby McCreary. “He was. I heard Lou play with a fantastic big band in Nice, France, in 1945. A friend and I were on a leave. My only comment: we did not miss much. Vincent was another character who fit into our group--excellent altoist.”

This group was called The Swingsters. Glenn Grove, accordion, keyboard, and arranger for the group. “The clarinet and accordion sound was great,” said Bobby McCreary. “I played alto sax and clarinet. Ray Minium was the bass player. One big plus: the group had a weekly radio broadcast at WKOK, Sunbury.”

The Mal Arter Big Band playing at the Davis gymnasium at Bucknell University in 1950. “I played lead alto for a year or more,” said Bobby McCreary. “It was a very popular area band. After I left to play with a small combo, I was a sub for Mal over the years. Mal disbanded in 1994. Gordon Taylor and I were subs for much of that year.”

(All information courtesy of

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Susquehanna Life's free newsletter to stay informed