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Joe Ferrari, a San Jose native and musician since the age of nine, played clarinet, accordion and piano in a variety of bands during his lifetime, from school bands to private performance bands. While in high school, he formed his own band, The Commodores, an eight-piece dance band that enjoyed enormous success in the San Jose area. Joe continued playing in dance bands while in college, during the Big Band Era. And, through the decades, as styles changed, he formed combos that played at many private and public clubs and organizations.

His love of music prevailed in the home, as well as outside, and he virtually raised his children on swing, jazz and harmony. Joe loved the big band sound, and his dream was to form a big band of his own one day.

His dream was finally realized in 1983. Upon his retirement as a Biologist with the County of Santa Clara Department of Agriculture, he gathered a group of his old cronies, and they began to rehearse in Joe's garage. Joe eventually brought two of his daughters into the band, Judy and Gerri, as vocalists. It wasn't long before The Joe Ferrari Big Band practically became a household name among big band dance enthusiasts in the South Bay Area.

Senior Expo
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

This popular band developed a loyal following among this population, especially those who remembered dancing to this style of music in their youth. The Joe Ferrari Big Band provided for them a sense of nostalgia beyond compare.

 Tragically, in 1995, at the height of his success and popularity, Joe Ferrari was stricken with a lengthy illness. For the next three years, while he recuperated, Judy managed and led his combo, but the big band performances ceased. Joe dreamed of getting his big band back together some day, just as soon as he was feeling able again, and in the fall of 1998, fully recovered, he began to make those plans.

Campbell Summer Music Series 2002


Tragedy struck once more, though, when Joe was killed in an automobile accident on September 29, 1998, just three days after an exciting, successful personal comeback, playing for the San Jose Symphony Gala. This event was the catalyst for his enthusiastic new plans. A year following his death, his widow, Evelyn, and daughters Judy and Gerri, decided to try to make Joe's dream a reality, and The Joe Ferrari Big Band was revived. Now, in Joe's tradition, we're back to play and we're here to stay!

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