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Carmen Mastren


  • Born Carmen Mastandrea, 6 October 1913, Cohoes, New York
  • Died 31 March 1981, Valley Stream, New York

Long the leading studio banjoist in New York City, Mastren only released one album under his own name, the spectacular looking and sounding Banjorama on Mercury. Mastren demonstrated his technical prowess on the album, backed by a veteran band of session men including guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and pianist Dick Hyman (appearing as "The Renowned Ricardo").

Mastren started out playing banjo professionally in the early 1930s, and added violin and guitar to his resume for better job security. He played with a number of jazz musicians, including Wingy Manone and Sidney Bechet, but he soon sought the security of studio work. From 1935 to 1941, he worked for Tommy Dorsey as an arranger and guitarist, and then he served in the Army Air Force in World War Two and played with Glenn Miller's orchestra. After the war, he returned to New York and worked as a staff musician in radio and television. He recorded a single, "Spaghetti Rag," with Robert Maxwell in the mid-1950s.


Recording

  • Banjorama, Mercury MG 20304


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