Jimmy Joseph Vivino was born on January 10, 1955 in Paterson, New Jersey. When he was young, the family moved to Point Pleasant and then back to Paterson before settling in Glen Rock, New Jersey in the mid sixties. He started out in the entertainment business as a young boy performing at the New York World's Fair in 1964 with his brothers Jerry and Floyd as a tap dancing act.
Jimmy was brought up in a musical household. Jimmy's father, Jerry and mother, Emily were very influential in helping Jimmy pursue a career in music; and did much to encourage him that that direction. His earliest memories of music being played in his house were of his dad playing Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge records. Jimmy's father was a jazz trumpeter and all his brothers were already playing musical instruments by the age of five. His brother Floyd took up the piano; Jerry began playing clarinet; and Jimmy took up the trumpet. Jimmy enjoyed playing the trumpet very much and proved to be quite talented.
When he was a boy, Jimmy and his family loved to spend time together gathered around their television set to watch the Ed Sullivan Show. Amazingly, at a very early age Jimmy could easily commit a song to memory after hearing it only once! And so although young Jimmy was only in the second grade when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, he was able to memorize the few songs they sang! They were a huge influence on him.
At the age of 10 Jimmy became interested in The Butterfield Blues Band and The Blues Project. In fact, Jimmy says one of his earliest concert disappointments happened in the 7th grade when he went to The Fillmore. He was eagerly looking forward to seeing Al Kooper, only to find out that Al Kooper wouldn't be performing!
Other artists Jimmy admired around this time (1966-1967) were: Electric Flag (Michael Bloomfield), Muddy Waters, B.B. King and all Motown, including the Temptations, Four Tops, and Junior Walker, just to mention a few.
In 1968-1969 Jimmy became interested in Mountain. He loved Lesley West and The Doors. Interestingly enough, Jimmy plays often with Lesley West these days.
Jimmy continued playing the trumpet, and at age 13 he was already forming bands and playing high school dances; at the late age of 15 he took up the guitar and he studied with Joe Cinderella and Jazz Guitarist Jack Wilkins.
The Band was one of Jimmy's favorites while in high school. He also loved Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Righteous Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and John Lennon, just to mention a few.
In 1970 Jimmy became fascinated with the music of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. It was around this time that Jimmy took up keyboards and became good enough to do studio work in a very short period of time.
By the mid-seventies, The Uncle Floyd Show was very popular, and Floyd Vivino was selling out the Bottom Line in New York City. At this time Jimmy's band provided the music. On sax was Jerry Vivino; on guitar, Jimmy Vivino; on keyboards the fabulous Ed Alstrom; and on drums, Frank Pagano.
Uncle Floyd poses with Jimmy and Jerry
Interestingly, all of the band were Glen Rock High School graduates, and they all went on to be successful musicians.
During this time Jimmy was putting together his own bands and doing a lot of studio work. His career was developing nicely. He played a lot with Phoebe Snow, Dion, and Frankie Valli among others.
By 1980 Jimmy's many talents were really becoming recognized, and Jimmy expressed an interest in moving to NYC. By then Jimmy was very much in demand as a studio musician.
In 1984 he directed an Off-Broadway show entitled "Leader of the Pack" at The Bottom Line. There he met Paul Shaffer who was unable to be the show's full time musical director due to his "Late Night With David Letterman" gig. He soon became a big fan of Jimmy's and helped on the project. Three months later the show got picked up by Broadway producers and Jimmy got his shot.
He reached the goal of becoming a Broadway musical director before the age of 30! It was there on Broadway that Jimmy met his future wife, Geneva. She was the assistant to Choreographer Michael Peters.
Unfortunately the show closed after several months, and Jimmy was devastated. Maybe he was too devastated to actually hear the reviews. Although every review said the show lacked a storyline, they also noted that the music was outstanding thanks to Jimmy Vivino! Phil Spector himself said that Jimmy had successfully duplicated his now famous "wall of sound." (Instead of the simple drums, guitar, horns, and piano typical of most recordings of the time, Phil Spector used large orchestras, lots of echo and reverb and built up layer upon layer of sound to the point where individual instruments were not definable. It was just that...a wall of sound! And Jimmy Vivino was able to duplicate it.) In a way, the fact that "Leader of the Pack" had closed now allowed more doors to open for Jimmy.
Jimmy now started playing more and more with Darlene Love (Danny Glover's wife in Lethal Weapon) , Ronnie Spector, Dion and various other artists. He and Paul Shaffer would play a few times a week at local NYC clubs such as Hades and JP's. Jimmy began performing with Al Kooper and met John Sebastian. John had a TV show called "DejaVu", and Jimmy became the leader of the house band.
He began doing more high profile work. HBO, Cinemax and motion pictures now came into view including working in Hollywood on such movies as "Sister Act", "Sister Act 2", "The First Wives Club", "Heart & Soul", "Night In The City" and "George of the Jungle". Interestingly, Jimmy was the musical director for "Sister Act" and even coached Whoopi on her singing!
During the mid 80's, Jimmy spent a lot of time at the NY blues club, Tramps, where the Johnny Copeland Band performed. There he met Mike Merritt and James Wormworth who played in Copeland's group. Both quickly became friends with Jimmy; and in 1989 Mike Merritt left Copeland to work with pianist Johnnie Johnson, asking Jimmy and James to join him in putting a band together for Johnnie.
Back in 1982 Jimmy first met Eddie Brigati of The Rascals, and they became good friends. Eddie loved performing with Jimmy. (Eddie immediately recognized Jimmy's enormous talent and predicted he would be very successful in the music business before anyone else did!) It was in 1986 that Jimmy began touring with Felix Cavilieri of the Rascals and was working for Wilson Pickett while still playing in bands. One of those band s in 1988 was the New York group "Reckless Sleepers" with songwriter Jules Shear (MTV Unplugged), and Steve Holly (Ex-Wings drummer). Jimmy took part on a project by a New Jersey musician known as "Killer Joe" Dilea, and it was through Joe Delia that he met Max Weinberg, who played with Jimmy on that project. (Jimmy had already played with Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes by this time.)
When Al Kooper asked Jimmy to put together a band for his New York shows at The Bottom Line, Jimmy started to accompany him there and later recorded with him on his albums "Soul Of A Man" and "Rekooperation". He also played with Johnnie Johnson (Chuck Berry's pianist) in 1990 and John Sebastian's J-Band.
In 1993 Max Weinberg literally ran into Conan O'Brien on the corner of 7th Ave. and 5th street in NYC and asked for an audition for his new show Late Night With Conan O'Brien on NBC. (Max technically didn't have a band when "Killer Joe, Scene of the Crime" was released). Conan was a huge Bruce Springsteen and E-Street fan so he felt obligated to audition Max. However, he was convinced Max would never fit into his show's format. Max went home and called Jimmy, who was in San Francisco at the time..... and like a scene out of The Blues Brothers, they put the band together! Jimmy called Jerry. At the time of the audition, Jerry Vivino was doing a lot of private studio functions and jingle work. He told Jimmy he had an unbelievable keyboard player that had been working on and off with him. So Jerry brought in Scott Healy!
Keep in mind these guys had never really played together as a band, but Max Weinberg was a true friend and gave the guys their shot! And of course they didn't disappoint. However, Conan thought the band would probably have a big beat, rock sound and he was already rehearsing how to tell Max they wouldn't get the gig! What a surprise when Conan walked in a little after the band began auditioning!! He took one look at the guys, heard the music, and turned to Jeff Ross, the producer. They had the same exact look on their faces!! They just listened in amazement and Conan said, "Give these guys what they want and sign them up!" It was that easy.........and the Max Weinberg 7 was born on September 13, 1993!
Jimmy is the gifted guitarist/arranger and many times lead singer for the Max Weinberg 7 and is the associate music director for the show. He has played, produced, arranged and/or orchestrated the music for artists as diverse as: Laura Nyro, Phoebe Snow, Cissy Houston, Al Kooper, The New York Rock and Soul Revue with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald, Johnnie Johnson, Hubert Sumlin, Shemekia Copeland, Joe Pesce, and Painted Blue (A blues tribute to the Rolling Stones.) For the last 14 years he has been Al Kooper's guitarist and music director.
Some of Jimmy's bands are known as: The Vivino Brothers, The J-Band, The Black Italians, the Jimmy Vivino Band, and Jimmy Vivino and the Rekooperators.
As a music director Jimmy's credits range from "Leader Of the Pack" to "Senator Joe", "Beehive", "Just Once" and "One Hot Minute" (Off-Broadway).
On the small screen his credits include: "Deja View" The Cinemax Session With James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, "Legendary Ladies of Rock and Roll" and "The Uncle Floyd Show."
As if that wasn't enough, Jimmy's artistic talents are not limited to music! Jimmy is a talented artist and loves to draw, paint and sculpt. He lives in Greenwich Village with his wife Geneva and plays at New York nightspots like The Bottom Line, Chicago Blues and The Bowery Ballroom. Jimmy and Will Lee from The Late Show with David Letterman have formed a band called The Fab Faux and perform at the China Club in NYC once a month, having recently been featured on CNN.
Since the formation of the Fab Faux in 1998, there has been a real buzz about them in NYC, with audiences packing out the Bowery Ballroom, The Bottom Line and the China Club. Their shows are always high energy and if you sneak a peak at the audiences, you'll see fellow musicians, celebrities and fans alike!
The full-length profile that was featured on CNN in October of 2001 was broadcast throughout the world, and the Fab Faux have also participated in a CD of original material by Beatles tribute bands recorded in London at where else but Abbey Road Studios!
In August of 2000 and 2001, the Fab Faux traveled to Liverpool, England where they played three shows each year for that city's annual Beatle week festivities, and that included an outdoor concert for over 35,000 people on the Apple-sponsored Yellow Submarine Stage.
But undoubtedly we are sure that Jimmy's proudest moment came this past May when he welcomed his son, Marcello Gino Vivino, all 7 lbs 8 oz of him, into the world! We wish both Geneva and Jimmy much happiness on the birth of their new baby son!
Whether it's at The Bottom Line, The China Club, Chicago Blues or on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Vivino continues to make new fans wherever he goes!