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Lew Del Gatto makes an appearance at BIG ARTS

December 7, 2016
By ASHLEY GOODMAN ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Saturday Night Live hall of famer and prolific saxophonist, Lew Del Gatto is set to play at BIG ARTS Schein Hall alongside pianist Dick Hyman plus five other superb jazz musicians Saturday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m.

"This is our second time playing at BIG ARTS. They do a great job bringing entertainment to the island so people don't have to run off to Fort Myers. It was a great audience (last year). They were very enthusiastic. I was told they enjoyed what we did," Del Gatto said.

Del Gatto grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father was the one who gave him his first saxophone lesson when he was in 7th grade. In the '70s, he worked with Paul Simon before he was offered a gig on SNL.

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"When you live in New York, you get recommended for things. I worked with him for three or four months and then left to go work on Saturday Night Live, I wasn't with him that long. He's a great guy, great talent. The man has had a very long career in the business. There's a lot of one-hit wonders around but he's one of those people whose in for the long haul. He's a nice guy too," he said.

Del Gatto played in the live band on SNL for four years until they changed producers in 1979. During his break with the show, he studied harmony and theory with Jack Reilly. In 1985, he returned to SNL and played on the show for 20 years until he retired.

"I was also one of the arrangers, I had to get music prepared last minute for the show.You rehearse it on Saturday morning then you're on the air on Saturday night. It's a fantastically exciting experience because it's all in the moment. They re-write the show up until 11:30 p.m., it's amazing how they get it done," Del Gatto said.

Along with appearing on SNL, Del Gatto has played with notable musicians like Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Tony Bennett, Henry Mancini and Eric Clapton. He also worked on recordings for Mariah Carey, Carly Simon, Ringo Starr and many others. Those are just the beginning. He has also composed, arranged and played music for commercials for hundreds of companies like Coke, Pepsi, Folgers, Ford and Burger King.

Currently, Del Gatto is the jazz leader at Artis-Naples. He also plays local shows at numerous restaurants around Southwest Florida like The Barrel Room and George & Wendy's Seafood Grille. Del Gatto made the move from New York to the West Coast 16 years ago initially looking to retire.

"I love it here. I lived in New York then I lived in Atlanta for a little awhile. I came here to essentially retire which I haven't really done. What I did was I retired from commercial music, now I just play jazz as much as possible. I'm just trying to have fun now," Del Gatto said.

Tickets for children and students are $5. For adults, they range from $39 to $44. To purchase tickets go to or call (239) 395-0900.



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