Leila Navidi / FILE
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- When music ruled Vegas (10-17-2007)
Elvis’ final performance in Las Vegas took place at the Hilton on Dec. 12, 1976.
One of the songs in the last show was “American Trilogy,” which included a flute solo by legendary Las Vegas saxophonist Jimmy Mulidore, who also is pretty good on the clarinet.
“I am truly blessed,” says Mulidore, who moved to Vegas in 1957.
In 1969 Mulidore was named musical director of the new International, which became the Las Vegas Hilton. For a time he was the director of both the Hilton and the Flamingo.
He conducted for the likes of Liberace, Ann-Margret, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Natalie Cole, Olivia Newton-John, Raquel Welch and Louis Armstrong, who made his final Las Vegas appearance with Pearl Bailey in 1971.
Today Mulidore is a little disconcerted at the direction his city has taken in entertainment.
“I call it the non-entertainment capital of the world,” he says. “Nobody appreciates jazz anymore. It’s all Cirque and magicians. You’d think we would have a better appreciation of the arts here.”
The downturn in the economy has had its effect on many top musicians, Mulidore included.
Until the past few months he had stayed busy performing in jazz joints and festivals across the country.
“Our bookings are not as good, that’s for sure,” he says.
But he’s using his down time constructively.
He recently completed a DVD, “Looking Back,” which will be available on his Web site, jimmymulidore.com, for $24.95.
The DVD’s peeks into Vegas’ past include mentions of Antonio Morelli, orchestra leader at the Sands in the ’50s and ’60s, during the heyday of the Rat Pack era.
“Antonio and Frank (Sinatra) didn’t get along,” Mulidore says. “Frank started calling him ‘Antny’ to irritate him.”
Many musicians didn’t like Morelli, a world-famous conductor and arranger.
“But Antonio was like a father to the musicians, despite what they said about him,” Mulidore says. “He was great to the musicians, even though he was not well liked.
“That’s the way musicians are. When someone is very successful and has the best job on the West Coast, musicians can get a little jealous.”
Mulidore says the only performer Sands entertainment director Jack Entratter ever pulled the curtain on was the late Red Skelton, once one of the most popular comedians in the country.
“Red liked to stay onstage,” Mulidore says. “He’d stay up there for 2 1/2 hours. Finally, Jack said that’s it.”
If the DVD isn’t full of enough Vegas history for you, Mulidore is working on his autobiography, “The Jazz Swinger,” which should be out in the spring.