Final Note: Al Imbach

Life Member. Trombone
3/11/1938 – 2/28/2023

 Allen Edward (“Al”) Imbach, legendary Las Vegas and Los Angeles trombone player, arranger, composer, conductor and beloved brother, husband, father, grandfather and uncle, passed peacefully from natural causes on February 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada with his devoted son by his side. Al was 84 years old.

Born on March 11, 1938 in Van Nuys, California, Al was the younger of Esther and Robert Imbach’s two children. He was raised in Van Nuys and took up the trombone at the age of 8.

After graduating from Van Nuys High School in 1956, Al attended Los Angeles Valley College where he studied music theory and composition and joined the American Federation of Musicians Local 47, Los Angeles. He dropped out of Valley College to pursue a full-time a career as a professional musician.

By 1958 at the of 20, Al was a busy and in-demand professional trombone player in Los Angeles due to his versatile big band, Dixieland, jazz and orchestral playing skills. That year he joined the “Lawrence Welk Plymouth Junior Orchestra,” began a six-year, six-nights-a-week stint with Rosy McHargue & His Dixieland Band at The Cottagein Pasadena, California and married Donna Eleanor Lamb.

A year later in 1959, Al’s only child, Scott Allen Imbach, was born.

From 1958-1964, Al also appeared with Rosy McHargue’s band at such diverse venues as the Porpoise Room at Marineland of the Pacific and Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Saloon and Gambling Hall in Lake Tahoe. During this time, Al and his family resided in Southern California in Pasadena, Redondo Beach and Venice.

In 1966 while appearing with Bob Braymond at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Al left Braymond to permanently relocate to Vegas, settle down and freelance on the Strip. Shortly thereafter, Al joined the “Casino de Paris” show band at the Dunes Hotel and Casino and began a 23-year run as one of the premier lead trombone players in Las Vegas.

From 1966-1989, Al played in Vegas’ premier hotels including the Aladdin, Caesars Palace, the Desert Inn, the Frontier, the Sands, the Riviera and the Stardust. He also played with the Johnny Haig Relief Orchestra. Al performed with legendary entertainers and comedians such as Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Milton Berle, George Burns, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Liza Minnelli, Wayne Newton, Debbie Reynolds, Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra and countless other stars.

Over the course of his 50-year career playing trombone, Al was the lead trombone player with the big bands of Larry Elgart, Claude Gordon, Jerry Gray, Buddy Greco, Carl Lodico, Nelson Riddle and Si Zentner. He also recorded with a variety of legendary artists including Doris Day, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bruce Harper, Johnny Mathis and Tom Jones, among others. Al appeared on numerous soundtracks at 20th Century Fox and Desilu Productions as well as several television shows and specials including “The Jack Benny Show,” “The Lawrence Welk Show,” “Disney After Dark,” “The Golden Globe Awards,” “The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon” and “Opening Night USA with Ed McMahon.”

Beginning in 2010, Al began a 13-year collaboration with Bruce Harper that continued until Al’s passing in 2023. Al contributed arrangements and original compositions to Bruce’s highly acclaimed Big Band.

After an amicable divorce from Donna Imbach in 1975, Al married Las Vegas singer/songwriter Lee Ballard in 1981. The devoted couple also enjoyed a successful musical collaboration with Al arranging, composing and conducting for Lee until her passing in 2004.

Al found love for a third time late in life when he met Bobbi Russo. Bobbi was a former dancer, entertainer and showgirl who performed for many years in Las Vegas in a variety of musical productions on the Strip. Bobbi shared Al’s love of music and they were inseparable companions for several years until she passed in 2019.

Al was a gentle soul who pursued musical creativity and spiritual growth with a passion. He was compassionate, loving, positive and understanding. Always a great listener, Al shared his wisdom with others when asked to do so and served as a mentor to many people. He was also a great storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. Al’s kindness, wisdom and wit will be missed. The world is a better place because Al passed through it.

Al is survived by his son, Scott Imbach, and his sister, Roberta Stimpson. He leaves behind his beloved daughter-in-law, Diane Imbach, his cherished grandchildren, Emily and Tyler Imbach and his dear niece and nephews Kim Elliot and David and Darrell Stimpson.

“A Jazz Party for Al Imbach, A Celebration of His Life in Music,” featuring The Bruce Harper Big Band will be held Saturday, May 27, 2023 from 1-3 p.m. at the Italian American Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Al’s name to the Jazz Outreach Initiative, a (501)(c)(3) non-profit organization founded and operating in the state of Nevada that seeks to promote the cultivation of jazz music through performances, education and advocacy.