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Dave Callaghan



Area saxophonist carves his own niche.

"My name is Dave Callaghan and I play hard bop" is how one of Erie's hardest working jazz musicians introduced himself to new acquaintences, potential employers and anyone else who was interested, as he was building his reputation in the Erie area as a dedicated proponent of the music.

And more......

Actually Dave is considerably more versatile than his salutation suggests.  He plays rock, classical band repertoire, R&B and other forms of jazz.  But hard bop from the '50's up through the present is his life blood.  Favorite instruments are tenor and baritone saxophones.

Dave Callaghan Quartet at Wegman's  New Venues.

  A tireless and assertive promoter, Callaghan has opened doors for jazz in unexpected     venues -- currently including Wegman's Cafeterias in both their Peach St. and Ridge Rd.   stores and Edinboro's Goodell Gardens.  He has opened doors at the Riverside Hotel in Cambridge Springs and a number of area wineries.


  Dave fronts a duo with Meadville guitarist Joe Frisina, a trio with Frisina nd myself, a  quartet adding drummer Tin Driscoll (shown at Wegman's) and a classic "Hard Core Hard Bop Quintet."  The current quartet features a front line of Callaghan and trumpet/fluegelhornist Jeff Gibbens, with a rhythm section which includes Franklin pianist Mark DeWalt.

Dave with the Dave Golando Big BandCallaghan also plays as a sideman in the Dave Golando Big Band (Fredonia), Carl Hultman's jazz ensemble, Doug Dressler's Big Band, the Northwest PA Concert Band, and has gigged with other area groups, including a duo with guitarist Frank Singer.

Musical high points.

* Appearing with saxophone giant Bobby Milletello as a member of the Dave Golando Big Band, in a concert featuring Milletello.
* Performing a solo for tenor and concert band with the Northwest PA Concert Band.
* Performing with the Hard Core Hard Bop Quintet at the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Fest.

Musical mentors.

Dave was born in West Virginia, but the family moved to the Erie area when he was two, so Erie is home.  He started playing in 7th grade at Memorial Middle school under band director Bob Rudolph, then moved on to McDowell High school.  He has also studied privately with saxophonist Dave Schiavone, a former member of the Doc Severinson band, commuting to Buffalo for lessons.


Learning never stops.  In 2007, Callaghan attended a Jamie Aebersold Summer Camp, and had workshop playing contact with bassist Rufus Ried, pianist David Hazeltine and other Aebersold stars. Saxophonist Eric Alexander (who has twice appeared in Erie) was also part of the mix. "Learned a lot," says Dave.

Musical heroes.

Saxophonists Dexter Gordon (whose sound Callaghan's tenor resembles), Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Eric Alexander.

Pianists Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea; Guitarists Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Lee Ritenour.

Drummers Elvin Jones and Art Blakey; trumpeter Woody Shaw; bassist Christian McBride.  And others.

Dave and TammyWork and family..

Dave earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Gannon University and has been employed in that field ever since.  He currently works as an engineer at the Parker Company in Erie.

With Meadville fiance Tammy Burt, he enjoys travel and contact with his mom and stepfather, both of whom live in Erie.  Dave lives in Edinboro.


"Gigs are a little harder to find right now, but I manage to play what I want and still get some work."

interview by Dick Thompson

March 18, 2014