Moose Zanco
By Bobby McIntyre

On the evening of October 19, 2008, one of New Orleans' quintessential cornet players went to that heavenly jazz kingdom where Buddy Bolden, Joe "King" Oliver, Freddie Keppard, Louis Armstrong, Papa Celestin and all the other great New Orleans horn men, no doubt, warmly greeted him.
Moose, the only name by which most everyone knew Manuel Zanco, was born on February 12, 1929 and has been pleasing people ever since.  His youth was spent in

Metairie doing the things most kids do, including many sports at Metairie High and Fortier.  Into the 50's the US Army called him and he served his country on the front in Korea.  In 1951, he married Patsy Shaw Zanco.  They brought two daughters into the world, Terri Zanco Signorelli and Robyn "Bunny" Zanco.  They were further blessed with six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Most people have but one passion.  I think Moose had two.  The first was the way he earned his living.  He became a New Orleans Firefighter, rising from the ranks of the humble to that of Captain.  Skillfully trained by a former Fire Chief, he appropriately became the Head of NOFD Training.  Though he had long since retired, there are ever so many men today that bear Moose's seal of approval, including several who told me so at his funeral.
Moose had a clear sense of history and graphic talent.  Sketching, writing and speaking about traditional jazz are part of his biography.  But his true second passion is what he so audibly and indelibly passes on:  HIS MUSIC!  Inspired by the great ones, he took up the cornet -- that wonderful, raspy "trumpet" of yesteryear played by all the "giants" mentioned above. 
During 1957 a group of four white-collar uptowners gave birth to a Dixieland Band, THE LAST STRAWS. Subsequently banjoist John Chaffe began discussing jazz over a haircut with his Tulane barber Bris Jones, a clarinet player.  Information quickly went from Bris to his friend, Moose, and in rapid succession to two other musicians.  Thus was added four, blue collar, downtowners.  An amazing amalgamation grew before the blink of our eyes.  A reminiscence of the turn-of-the-century New Orleans musicians when downtown Creoles of color and uptown plantation hands joined hands to help create the jazz we love to this day. 
Of the original four uptowners, three still play:  Bobby McIntyre on drums, Bob Ice, bass, and Frank DelaHoussaye, piano.And of the original four downtowners Briss Jones plays the clarinet,  and Bill Lee plays the soprano sax.  The chairs of deceased John Chaffe and Nick Gagliardi are filled by "youngsters" Walter Chamberlain on banjo, and Darryl Barnes on trombone 
Most musicians play with multiple bands though their years.  Not so with  THE LAST STRAWS.  They are an inseparable institution.  Moose's entire career was spent playing lead for The Straws.  A few musicians did cross our path during the "Bourbon Street Years" at the Paddock, Sho Bar, Maison Bourbon, Famous Door and others, and of course many times when The Straws played with the maestro, Pete Fountain, at his club.  I guess you might add on-stage appearances with Papa Celestin's Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, The Olympia, Onward and Eureka, the Night Owls, a benefit with the incomparable Victor Borge; and once as a startup band before the immortal Dizzy Gillespie.  While we

didn't play with them, we were listed in the 1965 National Jazzology Poll as tied for tenth place among new jazz bands, alongside Spike Jones and the Dukes of Dixieland.  Our blood was thicker than water and so we clung to each other and stayed together as has no other band.
What a lifelong ride!  We began with a carnival trip to Havana, courtesy of Sr. Fidel Castro via Mayor Chep Morrison.  We've played the European continent twice, and we've appeared on the TODAY SHOW.  We've visited all across the City, the USA, and one of our happiest relationships - with REX himself for 43 years!
So now, we'll close the chapter on Moose with our theme song, a song that now mimics our aging existence.  We have gone from our "spring" to our "winter" and now ever-so sadly sing: Time Marches On Time Marches On, The young get old, The old get cold, Time Marches On!