Part 1 of this post covered Tak Takvorian’s years in the wartime navy bands of Artie Shaw and Sam Donahue. Part 2 continues the story from the time of his 1946 discharge. Read Part 1 here.
On a Modern Kick with Thornhill and Evans
“I came back home to Boston, but I didn’t stay long. Sam Donahue organized a new band in March and I went out again. It was a tough time to start a new band, though. Then I had a chance to go with Claude Thornhill in June of 1946.” Tak replaced Tasso Harris, his section mate from the navy band.
“That was a good band, too, with Red Rodney, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, and Barry Galbraith. Ted Goddard, also from around Boston (Medford), was playing alto when I joined. Gil Evans was writing and arranging. We did quite a bit of recording, things like “Robbin’s Nest,” “Snowfall,” and “La Paloma.” A few of Gil’s arrangements where I had solos were “Donna Lee” and “Anthropology.”
Vahey “Tak” Takvorian was a trombonist by trade, a big-band trombonist by preference, and a member of some of the very best bands during their mid-century heyday. Takvorian toured the South Pacific with Artie Shaw’s navy band, played the glorious Gil Evans charts with Claude Thornhill, and played lead for Tommy Dorsey for five years. In the late 1970s, he had another go in Boston with the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra. He was a first-class sideman who made the most of his opportunities.
Tak Takvorian (1922-2009 ) was the first name-band musician I spoke with when I started researching The Boston Jazz Chronicles, in 2004. I wrote an article about him for the newsletter of the defunct New England Jazz Alliance. This updated article, with Tak’s own words from our 2004 interview and photos supplied by his daughter Denise, does a better job of giving this fine player his due.
Twin brothers Vasken and Vahey Takvorian were born in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1922. Their family moved to nearby Watertown a few years later. Both played music from an early age. Tak started on cello and switched to trombone at age 12. Vasken played bass. “Before I graduated from high school in 1940, I was already playing four nights a week with Larry Cooper’s band at the Mansion Inn in Cochituate (Massachusetts). Cooper played clarinet, and modeled his band after Artie Shaw’s. Being in school and playing nights…I didn’t have much time to do homework.” Tak also worked in violinist Lew Bonick’s dance band.