Documentary tells life story of Bay Area musician

- A new documentary tells the story of a Bay Area man who brought music to hundreds of young people.

He's a music man who a made a difference in many lives.

"I got a scholarship to Juilliard," the Trumpet Man explained.

But in the 1930s, jazz wasn't in the curriculum and young Sonny Larosa was dazzled at the Apollo.

"My father took me to the Apollo. We were the only white people. We saw Count Basie. It was so thrilling to me as a kid. I said, 'I'd live to do this someday.'"

He would grow up to tour with famous big bands, but nearly 40 years ago when he moved to the Tampa Bay Area he formed the band he's most proud of. It was called America's Youngest Jazz Band. It was a bunch of kids from all backgrounds. 

"He worked with a lot of underprivileged children and he gave them a great appreciation of jazz and he gave them inspiration and hope," says Troy Bowman of Apollo Productions.

He spent nearly three years making a documentary called "The Ambassador of Jazz." It follows Larosa's life from his childhood in the great depression, to his performing career, to how he brought jazz to a new generation with band.

Larosa is 90-years-old. He lives at a retirement community in Palm Harbor. His walls are covered with photographs of famous musicians posing with Sonny. They admired his trumpet playing, but even more his work bringing jazz to kids. But not just the music.

"One kid wrote and he said, 'Sonny, you did so much for me.' I said, 'I don't remember what you played.' He said, 'I don't play anymore. I'm a dentist.'"

It was the confidence he learned playing with Sonny and the band.

"He certainly could have gone on to play the rest of his life," says Bowman. "But he stepped down to step into the lives of other people."

Larosa says if he were to play it again, he'd play it the same way.

"I really have no regrets, the band brought such happiness to me," he said.


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