He was an East Side jazz kid, always happy jumpin' the blues away on his upright at Joe's Sandwich Shop in Providence. Improv in Prov, pod, the Hamilton-Bates Blue Flames were a truly happy band, and not unrelated to the joy and feel of the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra.
I was delighted when he joined Roomful in the mid-seventies. We were all so steeped in the Music of the forties that we turned an entirely blind eye to disco. We became the Music we loved. I just wanted to make the Music we liked, and our audience found us.
Sometime then we were driving down Route 95 on our way to NYC or DC, and we made a pit stop in CT or NJ at a rest area. In those days, the Providence guys dressed like gangsters from the 1930s. Three mugs sat in the back seat of one of the cars, Duke with his Borsalino, Basile with his trimmed "Cat Eye" mustache, and there was Preston in a pinstripe suit, smooth hair, shades and no other hair -- a real Baby Face. "Pinky," I called him, and the name stuck.
I never met a musician who was so great at his craft. His never failing swing and drive worked perfectly with John Rossi, and I did my share to keep us in the pocket. The horn section was built on the rhythm section, and the audiences who had previously said "Oh, ya can't dance to this stuff" now came in droves to do the Lindyhop. We followed our hearts and we had our living.
I don't know how he did it, it was uncanny, I never knew where he was or where he was going musically, but he was always in the right spot. It's been said that "It's not a matter of playing the Right note, but the Best note." That's The Pink !
He cried when he left Roomful in 1984, shortly before I did, because he loved that Band and that Music so much, but he simply had to get a little farther with his life and career. He added the inestimable to the Fabulous Thunderbirds -- "T-bird Rhythm" had its bassist and drummer from Little Rhody, oddly enough. We met up again and again. I marveled at how he slung his electric over his shoulder while he played upright, then swung it over his shoulder into his hands at the moment he laid down the upright, all in one smooth move.
He dropped out of sight when the T-birds thing slowed down and then in the late 1990s I started hearing these rumors "Did you hear? Pinky's dead." It seemed to be said with the slightest hint of gossip, and I repeated to myself "That's not how God made him" until I got to see him again. He came to Bern for my annual New Years stint in Quintet. I feel he had some real disappointments in his life which finally wore him down. That said, even at the end (2016) I still was wary of such reports until I saw his FB page.
I can't help lovin' dat man.
I will always pray to know him as God knows him -- happy, joyous and free -- the Golden Boy in the Golden Gates !!