By Don Mazen

July 21, 2005

Big Band-era trumpet player Joe Dolny, a former La Cañadan who lived here in the 1980s, died on July 13 of colon cancer.

He had turned 81 in March.

Dolny went into Wadsworth Veterans' Hospital in March to undergo surgery. He was transferred to the Chandler Convalescent Hospital and St. Ann's Hospice in North Hollywood where he died in his sleep last week.

A native of Cleveland, he had performed for 40 years with some of the famous name bands of the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s, a period known for the popular music of the Big Bands nationally.


Influenced by the musical background of his parents, Dolny began playing the trumpet at age 13 in his father's polka band in Cleveland. His dad played the violin, his mother the concertina, a small accordion-type instrument.

Seven years later at age 20 in 1942, the former La Cañadan experienced his first train ride as a new member of the Russ Carlisle Orchestra as the musicians headed for Memphis and the Claridge Hotel for an extended stand.

For Dolny, his career blossomed when landing jobs with Claude Thornhill, Dick Stabile, Skinnay Ennis, Russ Carlisle, George Hernandez, Bobby Sherwood, Del Simmons and Buddy Rich.

Later in semi-retirement, he played at the Glendale Moose Lodge with the quartet of Bill Page, formerly with Lawrence Welk.

Besides tooting his horn-several times sitting in the first chair, Dolny also turned to composing. His works were with such groups as Ray Anthony, Les Elgart, Harry James, Rafael Mendez, Dick Stabile and Claude Thornhill.

In 1956, he made his one and only record album, "Joe Dolny Plays Italiano."

He held close musical associations with jazz clarinetist Terry Harrington of La Cañada, recording studio violinist Don Palmer of La Crescenta, trumpet player Art Depew, clarinetist-saxophonist Del Simmons and trumpetman Clyde Reisinger.

Following a three-year U.S. Army stint where he played in a division band, Dolny went home to Cleveland and formed his own combo, called the "Quintones," in 1946. It played in the midwestern states, traveling by auto. His vocalist was Marcie Miller who later made a name for herself with the Ray Anthony Band. Dolny also arranged and composed for his group.

Leaving Cleveland, Dolny hooked up with the Bobby Sherwood Band, one of his favorites, in New York City, then joined drummer Buddy Rich, whose group played up and down the East Coast, including New York City. That was in the late 1940s.

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