Friday, September 23, 2016

California's NYA Quintet

Above: The description for this photograph (ca. 1935-1942) reads, "A band within a band is this 'hot quintet' - part of a National Youth Administration band newly organized in Los Angeles, California, where they will play at various community events. Left to right are Lee Cretarolo, Paul Dunlap, Hall Brant, Jimmy Pullara, and Terry Cruse." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

A man named Lee Cretarolo, who was born in Massachusetts in 1921 and died in Palo Alto, California in 2008, may be the man pictured above. According to his obituary, he "spent his early post-World War II service years playing bass in small jazz groups" and also worked as a "senior executive of American Building Maintenance Company, headquartered in San Francisco, dealing with sales and operations across much of Northern California..."

Interestingly, there was a famous Hollywood composer named Paul Dunlap (1919-2010) who, according to his Variety magazine obituary, composed music for many films, for example, The San Francisco Story, and for television shows, for example, Gunsmoke, and also seems to have played piano. However, I'm not 100% sure if that is the same Paul Dunlap that we see playing piano in the photo above. The age would be about right though; approximately 16 to 23 years old in the photograph (the NYA hired young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24).

I couldn't find any information on Brant, Pullara, or Cruse. What happened to them? Did they serve in World War II? Did they have musical careers? Did they settle in California? Maybe someone out there in the Internet world knows...

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