It has been said that everyone who grows up in Niles has the city in their blood for life and that statement is never more evident than in the life of jazz musician Tony Magliaro.
Magliaro, who grew up in the city and graduated from Niles High School in 1942, can count on one hand the years he didn't return since he left that same year to join the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Magliaro is the first inductee into the Niles Musicians Hall of Fame, an alumni organization co-founded three years ago by Niles resident and businessman Nick Limongi and Niles High School Band Director Carla Dean.
The Niles Times / Kathleen Evanoff
Nick Limongi of Niles holds the custom-made Calicchio trumpet his friend and former Niles native Tony Magliaro presented to the Niles Musicians Alumni Hall of Fame. Magliaro, who grew up in Niles and has played trumpet with jazz greats from Frankie Lane to Sarah Vaughn, said his Niles education was the best thing in his life.
''We've had a lot of great athletes from Niles and now we wanted to do something for the musicians,'' Limongi said.
Limongi, the owner and operator of The Razor's Edge Barber Shop on North Main Street also is a musician, playing trumpet for 25 years in local jazz bands. He still practices and plays for his own enjoyment, a practice he calls ''woodshedding,'' which in musician's jargon means to go off alone and hone their skills.
Upon leaving Niles in 1942, Magliaro played in the U.S. Air Force Band until 1944, when he left military service and immediately went to New York City.
''I went to the NOLA studio,'' Magliaro said.
The NOLA rehearsal studio in the city's theater district is where the bands would stay while they were in town, he said.
Using NOLA as his home base, Magliaro started knocking on doors, asking band leaders, ''Are you auditioning today?''
His first job with a band was with Shorty Sherock, a prominent swing jazz trumpeter. From there, Magliaro went on to perform with many of great bandleaders of the era, including Raymond Scott and Frankie Lane.
From New York City, Magliaro made the move to Chicago's Empire Room at the famous Palmer House, which led him to the CBS television network, the Moulan Rouge and finally to Hollywood where he performed on the Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey Shows and worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sarah Vaughn.
At the age of 63, Magliaro decided it was time to hang up his horn and retire after a more than 40 year career as a jazz musician.
''I was playing for Sarah Vaughn,'' he said, ''and I walked up to her after a concert and said, ' I'm retiring, this is the day I put my horn away.'"
Remembering his years in Niles, Magliaro said his education in the Niles School System was what started him on his career. Under the instruction of then band director Albert Schwartz, he won a regional trumpet competition and traveled with Schwartz to Columbus to perform in the state competition.
''My performance wasn't until 1 o'clock, so we had time to case the other trumpet players,'' he said. ''I never heard such trumpet playing in my life.''
After the competition, Magliaro was surprised to learn he won first place, naming him the best high school trumpeter in the state of Ohio.
''That was the best thing that ever happened in my life,'' he said.
Magliaro, who has called Las Vegas his home for the past 52 years, says his home town of Niles has never been far from his heart.
''I'm going to be 87 years old,'' he said. ''In fact, I just took care of my arrangements and I'm going to be buried here.''
Magliaro's trumpet, a custom made, very expensive 58-year old Calicchio, a brand name famous among trumpet players, will be showcased in the new Niles High School when its construction is complete, Limongi said.
''I wanted to give it to the school,'' Magliaro said. ''I just wanted to give something back.''