Music Bio.... There is a lot here but it describes my start in music and how I evolved throughout the years:
Robert Joseph DiBaudo (Bobby), son of Charles and Stella DiBaudo, the oldest of 3 kids, was born August 15th, 1954 in Irondequoit, NY, on Lake Breeze Park off of Culver Rd. His mother, Stella frequently played piano at home on their old gutted player piano. At around 5 years old Bobby started to take an interest in the piano and with her help began to play a little at a time. Before long he learned to play with both hands simultaneously, playing chords, and was working out simple pop tunes by ear. Over the next several years into his teens he became more proficient and was able to play more complex pop tunes, in various keys, and with greater speed.
Everything changed for Bobby during his freshman year at Penfield High School when he met fellow classmate, Barry Kiener, a childhood prodigy and at 15, a very accomplished Jazz Pianist. Barry and Bobby hit it off right away and he took Bobby under his wing. It was through Barry and Barry’s father Burt, who had one of Rochester’s largest jazz record collections, that Bobby had his first exposure to Jazz music. Burt let Bobby borrow an Oscar Peterson Trio record, it changed Bobby's life, and he was hooked big time! Barry would patiently answer Bobby’s many questions about this new music, the dissonant chords and melodies and every once in a while would show him a bonus Jazz chord, or two.... or three.
With continued encouragement from Barry, Bobby began to work hard practicing, listening for hours upon hours to Barry in the Penfield High School practice rooms, listening to 33 rpm records of other great pianists, and other jazz greats. Over the next few years he not only began to learn some of the popular jazz standards and blues tunes on the piano, but started to develop his own unique and unorthodox style using random traditional blues and jazz voicing’s. One of Bobby’s most memorable moments (and there were many of them), was in the early 70s when Barry took him to see Monty Alexander, the great internationally acclaimed Jamaican Jazz Pianist, with his bassist, Eugene Wright and drummer Bobby Durham, at the Round Towner on Jefferson Rd, in Henrietta NY. Barry knew Monty personally and he joined Barry and Bobby at their table during a break. That was just another all inspiring experience that remains etched in Bobby’s mind and heart to this day.
Following high school, Bobby attended Ashland College in Ashland, Ohio and although his major was in Business, he drew the attention of the Jazz band director who just happened to hear him practicing one day in one of the music practice rooms. He told Bobby that he wanted him to be the pianist in the Ashland College Jazz Band. Bobby said “but I can’t read music” he firmly said, “that doesn’t matter”, so Bobby took him up on his offer. To bridge the music-reading gap, Bobby would take the band charts to one of his fraternity brothers who could read piano music, and he would play the parts for him to memorize so he could play them with the band. Bobby also joined in with a few of the other band members to form his first trio/quartet and played jazz and blues gigs at the college and locally in town. It was over the next four years that Bobby started to learn the names of the chords he was playing but still could not read music.
Back at home, after college, Bobby began to play with local horn players in wedding bands here and there, and did a few random solo gigs, but his first break came in late 1977, when Barry recommended him to vocalist, Debbie Chamberlain. Debbie was a local pop, blues and jazz singer who had her own band that, at the time, was booked at several top venues all over Rochester and surrounding areas for over two years in advance. Debbie auditioned Bobby, really liked his playing, and hired him to be her pianist. So Bobby was put to the test, still unable to read music, he not only had to learn over 60 tunes of many genres, beats, tempos and styles, that the band performed, by ear, but he had to also memorize and be able to play each and every one of them at a moments notice, while live on stage. Bobby struggled, but passed that test and played with Debbie for over two years. Then, in1979, Bobby joined the Mark Cassara Band, playing mostly pop music using multiple keyboards, and stayed for over 9 years. In 1985, during the time Bobby was with Mark, Barry Kiener (mentioned above), passed away at the very young age of 30 while on the road with Drummer Buddy Rich. Words cannot describe what the loss meant to Barry’s family, his friends, the local community, and the Jazz world, to name a few. Enough said about that.
Following Mark’s band, during the summer of 1989, Bobby went on his own by starting a duo with Fred Stone, a Berklee Music School graduate and very well known superb bassist who played all over the world with names like drummer Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett and many more. Fred mentored Bobby (more or less kicked his ass) by teaching him some of the finer points related to jazz piano and tune structure, i.e. tune intros, endings, turnarounds, chord substitution usage, keeping better time, maintaining discipline during performance, and other performance tips in general. This proved to be invaluable for Bobby in the years to come. Following the duo, Bobby formed his own trio by adding various bass players and drummers. Bobby played at a few local venues but it wasn’t till his group started playing at the Lodge at Woodcliff and the Daisy Flour Mill, two of the most popular venues, that he became better known in the local Rochester area music scene. Once in a while he would add a vocalist but for the most part, it was just the Trio.
Then in 1996, Bobby recorded his first CD, “It Might as Well Be Swing” featuring his trio playing 12 Jazz standards. The CD was a local hit and was played on the two local Jazz radio stations for over a year and a half. That CD was followed by his second, “So Nice To Come Home To” that was released in 2005. That was also purchased by many locally and played on the same two stations. A Christmas CD ("This Christmas") followed shortly thereafter and was sold by Bobby on gigs and in local Barns and Nobel stores. It was also played on the local Jazz radio stations. The Daisy Flour Mill, mentioned earlier, closed in the late 90s but Bobby continued to play at the Woodcliff for a while after that.
In late 2000 Bobby hooked up as a side man with John Seiger and The All Stars, a Dixie Land band featuring John doing Louis Armstrong impersonations, both vocally and on his trumpet. Bob did many local gigs with John, including the Rochester Jazz Festival, and the Thousand Islands Jazz Festival (3 times). He also played out of town at the Ocho Rios/Montego Bay Jazz Fest, in Jamaica (twice), the Heritage Jazz Fest in New Orleans, the Jazz Holiday Festival in Clearwater Fla., and the Tarragona Jazz festival in Tarragona Spain in 2004. Bobby continued to play at the Woodcliff on and off till Sept. 2011 and played with other local horn players, guitarists and vocalists and their bands. In the years that followed he also worked at the Le Jazz Hot Café, later to become, the Bistro 135, mostly with a trio. That Restaurant changed ownership and names 5 times over a 12-year period, but Bistro135 was the most successful. Currently Bobby does a lot of private work and has a Duo that plays at Hedges in Webster, NY, on Lake Ontario with his bassist and long time friend, Dave Zaskoda. Dave also worked as a bassist with the Debbie Chamberlain Band mentioned earlier, so all in all Bobby has been playing with Dave on and off for just about 40 years.