Viola studied guitar and followed jazz guitarists Charlie Christian and Oscar Moore before he was drafted in 1941. The Army placed him in a trio with a pianist and bassist, billed as The Three Sergeants. Page Cavanaugh replaced the original pianist and after discharge, the trio won a recording contract with RCA under his name.
In 1946, the Page Cavanaugh Trio accompanied Frank Sinatra to New York where they played nightly behind Sinatra at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. During this same period the Cavanaugh Trio made a couple of recordings with Sinatra That's How Much I Love You and You Can Take My Word For It Baby, both of which enjoyed broad distribution due to Sinatra's popularity. And, like the Cavanaugh Trio recordings the Sinatra recordings included a solo by Al Viola.