“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
The most famous song of Louis Armstrong is not only the favourite classic of a Trail crooner, who is also an accomplished brass musician, but it’s also how Jack Vellutini reflects on his life as he nears turning 100 years old this week.
Born to immigrants from Tuscany, Jack Vellutini came into this world on Dec. 18, 1919 in Rossland. Right from his first day of breath, he has always lived in this region, and he’s a proud pioneer.
Now living in Poplar Ridge Pavilion, Jack says music is his secret to living a long and happy life.
At the age of 10 he picked up his first piece of brass, a French horn, and later mastered the trumpet, trombone and baritone. Up until his late 80s, every chance he had, Jack entertained the masses at dances and community events, both near and afar, with the sounds of big band and swing.
Even when it was time to retire from the music scene, Jack was still thinking of others because the monetary value of his instruments meant nothing. Keeping the sweet tunes going for others to enjoy, that is all that mattered.
“I gave my instruments away …. I didn’t want to sell them,” he said. “I gave my trombone to a lady who plays it in the (Maple Leaf) band and her daughter, I gave my trumpet to. I wanted to give them to someone who will use it and then, pass them on to someone else.”
The one instrument he’ll hold onto forever, however, is his voice.
For decades Jack’s classic vocals were a key instrument in ensembles with a number of local acts, like The Misfits. That’s why he is endearingly known to so many as Trail’s “Serenader of Song.”
He’s never forgotten one word of his favourite songs like “What a Wonderful World” and “Moon River.” In fact, he still picks up a microphone and sings the lyrics to residents and visitors of Poplar Ridge when his old band mates in The Misfits drop by for an afternoon of entertainment.
As far as celebrating his 100th birthday on Wednesday, Jack is his usual low-key self.
“I don’t need anything, I’m too old,” he said with a smile. “I just enjoy the people and the love.”
Jack lived in East Trail his entire adult life with his wife, now passed, and daughter Judy Robinson.
He worked as a career painter at Teck Trail Operations, formerly Cominco Ltd., until retirement.
Over many years, he was often the go-to guy for Trail Times stories on the local music beat because his memory of stories from the good old days was unparalleled.
“All the guys in the orchestra” are still some of his fondest memories, Jack says.
“Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world. Oh yeah.”