Vincent Joseph Abato (known to his friends as "Jimmy") was born on January 21, 1919 in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania. He began playing clarinet at age 7, initially studying with his older brother, Tony Abato. At age 9, he entered the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore, Maryland studying clarinet with Gilbert Stange. He moved to New York City at age 17 to study clarinet with Jan Williams at the Julliard School of Music in New York City.
Abato specialized on clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone. Highlights of his busy career include performances under Artur Rodzinski and Leopold Stokowski and appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, New York Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl and other orchestras. No stranger to the recording field, he performed with Percy Faith, Morton Gould, Andre Kostelanetz and others. He premiered the Paul Creston Saxophone Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in 1944. Teachings commitments included Columbia Teachers College, Hofstra University, Juilliard and Brooklyn College. His later years were spent as bass clarinetist and saxophonist with the New York Metropolitan Opera.