For more than 75 years trumpet player Red Mike Acampora has been a staple of New York City’s Little Italy. At one time his band worked a crowded schedule, playing religious festivals, block parties, and funerals. But over the decades, Little Italy shrunk to just over a city block. Most of the old neighborhood is now part of New York’s rapidly expanding Chinatown. Business for Red Mike’s Band would have all but dried up if not for the fact that the Chinese community adopted the tradition of Italian bands playing at their funerals.
Last week Red Mike passed away, at the age of 91. You’re about to hear a recording of the last time the band played together with Red Mike as leader, outside the Chinese Cheung Sang Funeral Home, on Mott Street.
Recorded in New York City. Premiered December 4, 2004, on Weekend Edition Saturday.
This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.