“That’s when all the music really started here in Buffalo,” said Geraldine DiRe. “When all the musicians and artists saw what they could do, they moved forward… It was black and white, and they were all treated the same. It was wonderful what ‘he started.”
While at UB, DiRe also began working with a local blues band known as the House Rockers, which included Ernie Corallo, Jim Calire, Joey Giaranno, Sandy Konikoff and Jay Beckenstein – a saxophonist who would later co-found the Spyro Gyra group in 1974. with Jérémy Wahl. The House Rockers performed at clubs in Buffalo such as Sunday’s, Belle Starr, Casey’s and One-Eyed Cat, and also teamed up with the Jazz Ensemble, where Mr. DiRe presented his original music.
“Phil was always a jazz musician, but he leaned towards blues and rock. He loved it all,” his widow said.
In 1975, Mr. DiRe entered into an agreement between the city, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Association for Jazz Performance and the Musician’s Union to fund a series of Jazz Ensemble concerts. in most city parks, cultural centers and schools. It started at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, became a weekly summer event, and eventually evolved into jazz at the Albright-Knox.
Members of the ensemble also held free clinics for aspiring musicians throughout the city to expose the music to more young people, and eventually gave birth to what became known as “fusion music”. Prominent local artists who performed with the ensemble included Beckenstein, Wahl, Al Tinney, Lou Marino, Joe Ford, James Clark and Sabu Adoyola.