How Does a Boy From Buffalo End Up Playing at Caesar’s Palace for Frank Sinatra?



How does a high school boy from Buffalo, who had never picked up a trumpet in his life, end up playing at Caesar’s Palace for Frank Sinatra?


Let me tell you…it was quite the ride.

My trumpet career began because I was failing music class and my teacher said he would pass me if I joined the band. He was pretty desperate for band members and I didn’t want to fail music, so he gave me a trumpet and I started taking lessons.

Learning a new instrument was fun, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine told me to check out Bill Chase. The moment I heard him play I knew I wanted to be a professional trumpet player.

Practice Makes Perfect

So I practiced, practiced, practiced, practiced, and practiced. I auditioned at numerous colleges and universities, but moved to Boston when I received a scholarship to the Berklee School Of Music.

During my aptitude tests for class placement, I learned I had perfect pitch, which is the ability to recognize a musical note just by hearing it. It’s a rare auditory phenomenon, something you can’t teach. So I was placed in all these upper level classes as if I were a musical prodigy, yet I had no idea what I was doing.

Thankfully one of my teachers, Jim Frejek, recognized that even though I could play the trumpet and hear the notes, I had no foundational knowledge of musical theory. He tutored me and got me up to speed with the other students.

So I’m going to school, practicing like crazy, when during my sophomore year the apartment building I was living in burned to the ground. I literally lost everything! Even my dog. I had the clothes on my back and my trumpet.

That trumpet allowed me to earn money playing in clubs while going to school. I lived with friends until I saved up enough and could afford to move into another apartment.

Tae Kwon-Do & Music

There are similarities between Tae Kwon-Do and being a musician, such as  repetition, concentration and goal setting. Living in Boston was ridiculously expensive. Every penny I earned went to food and rent, so it gave me time alone in my apartment to concentrate and focus on what I needed to do in order to survive.

I graduated from Berklee in 1978 and moved to Las Vegas where I worked in a relief band. A relief band travels from hotel to hotel relieving the house band so they can take a night off.

Man, I won’t lie to you, those were great times. You name ‘em, I played for ‘em. Dean Martin, Lola Falana, and yes, the great Frank Sinatra.

I had become the professional musician I had always wanted to be.

Those Years Taught Me Valuable Lessons:

  1. Hard work pays off.
  2. It takes focus to overcome adversity.
  3. Having perfect pitch doesn’t make you a musician.

Frank would tell you the same.


Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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