Original River Dogs
The late Ted Reinhardt was an exceptionally talented WNY musician who gained national recognition as the drummer for such renowned jazz groups as Spyro Gyra, Ernie Watts, and Buffalo’s own Gamalon. In 2007, Ted decided to form a traditional jazz band featuring some of the finest musicians of that genre in this area. After hand-picking the players, the Original River Dogs became a reality. This first group pictured here includes such stalwarts as: Paul Preston, reeds/vocals; Jon Seiger, piano/vocals; Dick Hull, bass; Ted Reinhardt, drums & leader; Dean Lilac, trumpet/vocals; and Ray Skalski, trombone/vocals. Early on, the group established the River Grill in Tonawanda, NY as their musical headquarters, and continues to play there.
After Ted’s untimely death in an airplane accident in 2015, the band carried on the Reinhardt tradition. Under the leadership of Ray Skalski, the River Dogs continue to perform (after a significant interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic) their infectious brand of traditional jazz. The group has evolved through the years, all the while maintaining the high level of musicianship that Ted established. The current sextet (pictured from left to right): Ron “Pee Wee” Joseph, clarinet/vocals; George Kane, guitar/banjo; Tim Clarke, cornet; Paul Zapalowski, acoustic bass; Ray Skalski, trombone/vocals; and Tom Kasperek, drums. Members of the band have performed with such jazz greats as Dick Hyman, Ken Peplowski, Doc Severinson, Howard Alden, and Kenny Burrell, to name a few. In addition, Paul Zapalowski and Tom Kasperek have had extensive big band experience with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (under the direction of Buddy Morrow) and Woody Herman.