Tony Curatola (Billy Panic)

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By Tony Senatore

Tony’s study of the bass guitar began in 1977, under the tutelage of Al Faraldi, who, interestingly enough, was not a bassist. Faraldi was primarily a jazz guitarist that played classical guitar. The core of Mr. Faraldi’s teaching was his emphasis on reading, the Carol Kaye Bass Method, as well as Bach’s Six Suites for Violincello Solo and the Charlie Parker Omnibook.

After three years with Faraldi, and a brief stint with Jeremy Steig in 1979, Tony left New Jersey for the Berklee College of Music, where he spent a semester, but soon realized that he could forge a more personal style on his own.

Although Tony reunited with Faraldi from 1983 to 1984, he came to the realization that what he was looking for could only be found through real world experience. Thus, the streets and bars of New York became his college campus, and his professors were his heroes, ranging variously from Jaco Pastorius, Gary Willis, to Ray Brown and Ron Carter.

Photo by Alan Goldberg - Courtesy Tony Curatola Facebook Photo by Alan Goldberg - Courtesy Tony Curatola Facebook

Photo by Alan Goldberg – Courtesy Tony Curatola Facebook

These days, Tony enjoys playing live with his band Billy Panic, whose 2015 release entitled ISH is a musical tour de force of all that Tony holds sacred: melody, harmony and the groove. He also is the house bassist at the weekly jam session with his band The Dogs at The Peddler Jam in Cresskill, New Jersey.

He enjoys the challenge of the endless array of styles he is confronted with each week, and he particularly enjoys mentoring and nurturing younger players. Tony also maintains a rigorous daily practice schedule on his upright and electric basses and has learned a lot from Rufus Philpot’s bass instruction videos.

Tony feels that Rufus is one of the best players and educators available anywhere.

In summary, unlike many of his contemporaries, Tony Curatola’s strength as a musician is realizing what he doesn’t know and having the humility to learn it.

Dig Tony with Billy Panic:

“Work Shoes”

“Hudson River Walk”

“Running with the Bulls”

Tony Curatola in his own words…

How do I judge me…” Let me count the ways.  

Two-five-one that’s right, for many years I not only studied jazz,  but I used it as a barometer to judge myself not only as a bassist but as a musician overall. 

Although I am relatively learned and fluid in the style and admittedly it has taught me much in terms of theory, composition and the like, in all honesty I have to admit two things. First and foremost, I don’t enjoy it, I never did and second I’m not much more than proficient at it. 

It wasn’t until recently when I had a conversation with pro bassist and confidant Tony Senatore who quite literally told me “its okay,” yes okay to openly admit that I don’t care to play jazz anymore.

It wasn’t the music of my time. I grew up in the seventies listening to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and the all the super bands of the time (none of which played jazz). Since then I’ve come to happily emulate the music I grew up on and really enjoy playing. I no longer judge myself by two-five-one, but I do count to four at the start of most tunes.    

Nowadays I mostly play on a stage not a “bandstand…”

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