Anita O’Day

Anita O’Day (October 18, 1919 – November 23, 2006) was an American jazz singer.

Born Anita Belle Colton, O’Day was admired for her sense of rhythm and dynamics, and her early big band appearances shattered the traditional image of the “girl singer”. Refusing to pander to any female stereotype, O’Day presented herself as a “hip” jazz musician, wearing a band jacket and skirt as opposed to an evening gown. She changed her surname from Colton to O’Day, pig Latin for “dough,” slang for money.

O’Day, along with Mel Tormé, is often grouped with the West Coast cool school of jazz. Like Tormé, O’Day had some training in jazz drums (courtesy of her first husband Don Carter); her longest musical collaboration was with John Poole, a skilled jazz drummer who was known for his explosive drum solos. While maintaining a central core of hard swing, O’Day’s considerable skills in improvisation of rhythm and melody put her squarely among the pioneers of bebop; indeed, a staple of her live act in the 1950s was a smooth cover of “Four” by Miles Davis.

She cited Martha Raye as the primary influence on her vocal style, although she also expressed admiration for Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.

O’Day always maintained that the accidental excision of her uvula during a childhood tonsillectomy left her incapable of vibrato, as well as unable to maintain long phrases. That botched operation, she claimed, forced her to develop a more percussive style based on short notes and rhythmic drive. However, when she was in good voice she demonstrated surprising skill at stretching long notes with strong crescendos and a telescoping vibrato, e.g. her stunning live version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, captured in Bert Stern‘s film Jazz on a Summer’s Day [1] . Noteworthy is that one can hear on her records that her prominent upper teeth sometimes lead to her articulation of the “B” and the “P” as a “W” (e.g.. Sweet Georgia “Wrown”).

O’Day’s cool, backbeat-based singing style was strongly influential on many other female singers of the late swing and bebop eras, including June Christy, Chris Connor and even less jazz-oriented performers such as Doris Day.

O’Day’s long-term problems with heroin and alcohol addiction and her often erratic behavior related to those problems earned her the nickname “The Jezebel of Jazz”.

Born in a broken home in Chicago O’Day took the first chance to leave home when, at age 14, she became a contestant in the popular Walk-a-thons as a dancer. She toured with the Walk-a-thons circuits for two years, occasionally being called upon to sing. In 1934, she began touring the Midwest as a marathon dance contestant and singing “The Lady in Red” for tips.

In 1936, she left the endurance contests, determined to become a professional singer. She started out as a chorus girl in such Uptown venues as the Celebrity Club and the Vanity Fair, then found work as a singer and waitress at the Ball of Fire, the Vialago, and the Planet Mars. At the Vialago, O’Day met the drummer Don Carter, who introduced her to music theory and whom she married in 1937. Her first big break came in 1938 when Down Beat editor Carl Cons hired her to work at his new club at 222 North State Street, the Off-Beat, which quickly became a popular hangout for musicians. Also performing at the Off-Beat was the Max Miller Quartet, which backed O’Day for the first 10 days of her stay there.

While performing at the Off Beat, she met Gene Krupa, who promised to call her if Irene Daye, his current vocalist, left his band. In 1939 she was hired as vocalist for Miller’s Quartet, which had a stay at the Three Deuces club in Chicago.

The call from Krupa finally came in early 1941. Of the 34 sides she recorded with Krupa, it was “Let Me Off Uptown”, a novelty duet with Roy Eldridge, that became her first big hit. That year, Down Beat named O’Day “New Star of the Year”. In 1942, she appeared with the Krupa band in two “soundies” (short musical films), singing “Thanks for the Boogie Ride” and “Let Me Off Uptown”. The same year Down Beat readers voted her into the top five big band singers. O’Day came in fourth, with Helen O’Connell first, Helen Forrest second, Billie Holiday third, and Dinah Shore fifth. O’Day married again in 1942, this time to golf pro and jazz fan Carl Hoff.

When Krupa’s band broke up after his possession of marijuana arrest in 1943, O’Day joined Woody Herman for a month-long gig at the Hollywood Palladium, followed by two weeks at the Orpheum. Unwilling to tour with another big band, she left Herman after the Orpheum engagement and finished out the year as a solo artist. Despite her initial misgivings about the compatibility of their musical styles, she let herself be persuaded to join Stan Kenton‘s band in April 1944. During her eleven months with Kenton, O’Day recorded 21 sides, both transcription and commercial, and appeared in a Universal Pictures short Artistry in Rhythm (1944). “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine” became a huge seller and put Kenton’s band on the map. She also appeared in one soundie with Kenton, performing “I’m Going Mad for a Pad” and “Tabby the Cat”. O’Day later said, “My time with Stanley helped nurture and cultivate my innate sense of chord structure.” In 1945 she rejoined Krupa’s band and stayed almost a year. The reunion, unfortunately, yielded only ten sides. After leaving Krupa late in 1946, O’Day once again became a solo artist.

During the late forties, she recorded two dozen sides, mostly for small labels. The quality of these singles varies: O’Day was trying to achieve popular success without sacrificing her identity as a jazz singer. Among the more notable recordings from this period are “Hi Ho Trailus Boot Whip”, “Key Largo”, “How High the Moon“, and “Malaguena”. O’Day’s drug problems began to surface late in 1947, when she and her husband Carl Hoff were arrested for possession of marijuana and sentenced to 90 days in jail. Her career was back on the upswing in September 1948, when she sang with Count Basie at the Royal Roost in New York City, resulting in five airchecks. What secured O’Day’s place in the jazz pantheon, however, are the seventeen albums she recorded for Norman Granz‘s Norgran and Verve labels between 1952 and 1962.

Her first album, Anita O’Day Sings Jazz (reissued as The Lady Is a Tramp), was recorded in 1952 for the newly established Norgran Records (it was also the label’s first LP). The album was a critical success and further boosted her popularity. In October 1952 O’Day was again arrested for possession of marijuana, but found not guilty. The following March, she was arrested for possession of heroin. The case dragged on for most of 1953; O’Day was finally sentenced to six months in jail. Not long after her release from jail on February 25, 1954, she began work on her second album, Songs by Anita O’Day (reissued as An Evening with Anita O’Day). She recorded steadily throughout the fifties, accompanied by small combos and big bands. In person, O’Day was generally backed by a trio which included the drummer with whom she would work for the next 40 years, John Poole.

Anita O’Day singing, “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me” -1945

“We’ll Be Together Again”

As a live performer O’Day also began performing in festivals and concerts with such musicians as Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Dinah Washington, George Shearing, Cal Tjader, and Thelonious Monk. She appeared in the documentary Jazz on a Summer’s Day, filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival which increased her popularity. She admitted later that she was probably high on heroin during the concert.[1] She also said that it was the best day of her life in that hers was the star performance of the festival and she made the cover of national magazines for it.

The following year O’Day made a cameo appearance in The Gene Krupa Story, singing “Memories of You”. Late in 1959, she toured Europe with Benny Goodman. O’Day wrote in her 1981 autobiography that when Goodman’s attempts to upstage her failed to diminish the audience’s enthusiasm, he cut all but two of her numbers from the show.

After the Goodman fiasco, O’Day went back to touring as a solo artist. She recorded infrequently after the expiration of her Verve contract in 1962 and her career seemed over when she nearly died of a heroin overdose in 1968. After kicking the habit, she made a comeback at the 1970 Berlin Jazz Festival. She also appeared in the films Zig Zag (1970) and The Outfit (1974). She resumed making live and studio albums, many recorded in Japan, and several were released on her own label, Emily Records.

O’Day spoke candidly about her drug addiction in her 1981 memoir High Times, Hard Times.

In 2005, her version of the standard Sing, Sing, Sing was remixed by RSL and was included in the compilation album Verve Remixed 3, and 2006 saw her first album release in 13 years, entitled Indestructible!

One of her best late-career audio performances “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” which opens the film Shortbus (2006) by John Cameron Mitchell.

A feature length documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of A Jazz Singer, directed by Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 30, 2007.[1][2] With her album Indestructible! released, and her new documentary already wrapped up for production, O’Day was making a strong comeback. But in November 2006, Robbie Cavolina (her last manager) entered her into a West Hollywood, California convalescent hospital, while she recovered from pneumonia. Two days before her death, she had demanded to be released from the hospital. On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006, at age 87, O’Day died in her sleep. The official cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Source: Wikipedia, YouTube

Alternate Bio. Source: anitaoday.com

Anita O’Day was never just another big-band canary. That’s not to say that she lacked the physical attributes to compete with the other Swing era vocalists — frilly eye candy occasionally taking the microphone to offer jaunty riffs on the latest pop tunes — who sat on stage with the Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Harry James ensembles.

There’s a photo of O’Day on the cover of her autobiography, “High Times, Hard Times,” in which she is perched, nylon-clad legs crossed, on top of a piano in a pose that could have been an inspiration for Michelle Pfeiffer’s sexy lounge singer in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” The elegance was always a veneer covering an inner toughness, the hard life lessons learned that made her a superb jazz singer, one of the best of her generation — or of any generation. At a time when most female vocalists tended to emphasize the sweet timbres of their voice, she chose to follow a path blazed by the one major jazz singer who emphasized message over medium — Billie Holiday.

Anita singing, “That Old Feeling” 1963, Tokyo

Like Holiday, O’Day combined the soaring freedom of a jazz instrumentalist with the storytelling lyricism of a poet. She often said she was a “stylist,” not a “singer,” which was correct, but only in a minimal sense.

From the moment she broke through to a national audience via the briskly swinging encounter with trumpeter Roy Eldridge in the Gene Krupa Band’s recording of “Let Me Off Uptown” to her splendid Verve recordings of the ’50s, and her comebacks in the ’70s and again in the ’90s, she was instantly recognizable, an utter original. Yes, “stylist,” but much more. Like Frank Sinatra, she balanced the rhythmic songs that were generally considered to be her forte with an approach to ballads that varied from seductive intimacy to sardonic irony.

When I wrote about her in 1990, she was as feisty as ever, personally — discussing another hard-luck encounter with the vagaries of the record business — and still singing with the killer phrasing that made every song an adventure. Eight years later, I reviewed her again, this time after she had made an astonishing return to singing after a near-fatal encounter with pneumonia and blood poisoning. And again she was remarkable, as she was in her final performances before her death — to the very end, never just another big-band canary.

Advertisements

Steve Tyrell

Steve Tyrell (born Stephen Louis Bilao III, December 19, 1944 in Texas)[2][3][4] is an American jazz musician.

Upon moving to New York City at the age of 18, he was made head of A&R and promotion at Scepter Records. There he was mostly behind-the-scenes, producing hits for popular recording artists and movie soundtracks.

At 19 years old he first began producing with the likes of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. He worked on several Dionne Warwick hits such as The Look of Love, and Alfie. Together with B.J. Thomas, he worked on the Bacharach-David song, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, which went on to win the 1969 Oscar for Best Song From A Movie (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

His contributions to the film industry include Mystic Pizza, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, Father of the Bride and The Brady Bunch Movie. Steve also sang the theme from Garbage Pail Kids with Ashley Hall who also wrote the lyrics with his wife.

Tyrell’s performance singing The Way You Look Tonight in Father of the Bride, starring Steve Martin, pushed him center-stage as a vocalist, with live performances and a recording career of his own.

Since the end of the 1990s, he has made several albums based on jazz, holiday and Disney standards.

Steve Tyrell’s “Back To Bacharach

Tyrell has covered popular standards including “I’ve Got a Crush on You“, “Georgia on My Mind” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To“. Tyrell delivers his own interpretation of many of these tracks: “We don’t think it’s right if we can’t bring something fresh to these wonderful songs that some of the greatest artists of all time have already done definitive versions of”.

His work in the studio has included collaborations with such diverse and artists as Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, LL Cool J, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Burt Bacharach, Bette Midler and Stevie Wonder.

Back to Bacharach, a tribute to the composer, his latest album.

Source: Wikipedia

Alternate Bio

Grammy Award-winning vocalist Steve Tyrell is truly a renaissance man. In his four and a half decades in the music business, he has achieved great success as an artist, producer, songwriter, music supervisor, performer.

With his breakthrough performances in “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride II,” Steve Tyrell reinvented and re-popularized classic pop standards for a modern-day audience.  With the grit and soul of a lifetime of experiences,  producing hits for Grammy-winning Artists ranging from Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville,  to Rod Stewart and Diana Ross, Steve himself has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and gained a passionate following all over the world.  His hits “The Way You Look Tonight,” “The Simple Life,” “Crush On You” and “The Sunny Side of The Street,” have launched thousands of weddings and millions of romances. He’s held top positions at Standards, Swing, and Big Band outlets with a devoted following at key Adult Contemporary Radio.

Steve Tyrell, “This Guy’s In Love With You”

With sold out shows across America and raves from around the world, his following increases day by day. Although Steve tours mainly with his band, he also enjoys playing with big orchestras and has appeared with the Boston Pops, Nashville Symphony, and Houston Symphony on several occasions.  At the request of the Sinatra family and Quincy Jones, Steve was the featured performer with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at their season opening concert in which Frank Sinatra was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.  This is one of the few times the Sinatra family has reached into the vault of original Sinatra arrangements to share with another artist.

Source: stevetyrell.com

Cleo Laine

Dame Cleo Laine, Lady Dankworth, DBE (born 28 October 1927) is a jazz singer and an actress, noted for her scat singing and vocal range.

She is the only female performer to have received Grammy nominations in the jazz, popular and classical music categories. Laine is the widow of jazz composer Sir John Dankworth.

Laine was born as Clementina Dinah Campbell in the London suburb of Southall to a black Jamaican father and English mother who sent her to singing and dancing lessons at an early age. She attended the Board School in Featherstone Road, until recently Featherstone Primary School. She worked as an apprentice hairdresser, librarian and for a pawnbroker, got married in 1947 (divorced 1957) to George Langridge, a roof tiler, and had a son, Stuart.[1][2] She did not take up singing professionally until her mid-twenties, however. She auditioned successfully for a band led by musician John Dankworth (1927–2010), with which she performed until 1958, when she and Dankworth married; he died on February 6, 2010. They had two children: Alec Dankworth and Jacqui Dankworth, both also internationally successful musicians.

She then began her career as a singer and actress. She played the lead in a new play at London’s Royal Court Theatre, home of the new wave of playwrights of the 1950s such as John Osborne and Harold Pinter. This led to other stage performances such as the musical Valmouth in 1959, the play A Time to Laugh (with Robert Morley and Ruth Gordon) in 1962, Boots With Strawbwerry Jam with John Neville, actor/artistic director of The Nottingham Playhouse, music by John Dankworth, book Benny Green, directed by the late Wendy Toye in 1968 and eventually to her show-stopping Julie in Wendy Toye’s production of Show Boat at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1971.

Cleo Laine and John Danworth, “It Don’t Mean A Thing” recorded 2008, Northsea

During this period she had two major recording successes. You’ll Answer to Me reached the British Top 10 while Laine was ‘prima donna’ in the 1961 Edinburgh Festival production of Kurt Weill‘s opera/ballet The Seven Deadly Sins. In 1964 her Shakespeare and All that Jazz album with Dankworth received widespread critical acclaim.

Laine’s international activities began in 1972, with a successful first tour of Australia. Shortly afterwards, her career in the United States was launched with a concert at New York‘s Lincoln Center, followed in 1973 by the first of many Carnegie Hall appearances. Coast-to-coast tours of the U.S. and Canada soon followed, and with them a succession of record albums and television appearances, including The Muppet Show in 1977. This led, after several nominations, to her first Grammy award, in recognition of the live recording of her 1983 Carnegie concert.

She has collaborated with many well-known classical musicians including James Galway, Nigel Kennedy, Julian Lloyd Webber and John Williams.

Other important recordings during that time were duet albums with Ray Charles (Porgy and Bess) and Mel Tormé (see Nothing Without You), as well as Arnold Schoenberg‘s Pierrot Lunaire, which won Laine a classical Grammy nomination.

Laine’s relationship with the musical theatre, started in Britain, continued in the United States with starring performances in Sondheim‘s A Little Night Music and The Merry Widow (Michigan Opera). In 1980 Cleo Laine starred in Colette, a new musical by John Dankworth. The show originally opened at The Stables Theatre, Wavendon in 1979 and transferred to the Comedy Theatre, London in September 1980. The cast album was released on CD for the first time in 2010 by Stage Door Records. In 1985 she originated the role of Princess Puffer in the Broadway hit musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, for which she received a Tony nomination, and in 1989 she received the Los Angeles critics’ acclaim for her portrayal of the Witch in Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

In 1979 Laine was made an Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire for services to music. In the 1997 New Year’s Honours list, Laine’s membership of the order was elevated to Dame Commander, and she was appointed Dame Cleo Laine DBE (the female equivalent of a knighthood).

1977 – Cleo Laine sings a medley: “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “Come Back To Me”

In May 1992 Laine appeared with Frank Sinatra for a week of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, London. She told a reporter in 2007: “I was very impressed with his singing, to me he sounded even better in those concerts than he did on the records. It was a real thrill to be part of his show.”

In the 2006 New Year Honours list, her husband John Dankworth was made a knight bachelor, becoming Sir John Dankworth. They were one of the few couples to both partners hold titles in their own right.

On October 28, 2007, Laine turned 80. She marked her birthday with a series of special concerts in the UK, including an appearance with the John Dankworth sextet at Birmingham Town Hall on December 18. She said of her milestone birthday: ” I don’t think about being 80. What would be the point? I’m limping a bit because they’ve given me a new knee, but that’s about the only difference. I don’t want to start thinking about what I should or shouldn’t be doing at my age. It’s not right.”

In 2008 John Dankworth and Cleo Laine won the prestigious Gold Award at the BBC Jazz Awards. The couple got a standing ovation for the vivacity of their performance with Guy Barker’s powerful specially-assembled big band at the finale of the award ceremony.

A New York critic wrote of Laine and Dankworth’s September 2008 engagement at Blue Note: “Dankworth’s alto sax and clarinet sound as gossamer as ever, while Laine’s voice remains a wonder of agility and plummy richness. After 57 years of dual music-making (and 50 of marriage), the Dankworths can anticipate one another’s every move; they make a stage seem as comfortable as their living room.”

I had the opportunity to see Cleo Laine and her husband, John Dankworth earlier this year at the Razz Room, in San Francisco, CA. They were phenomenal.  Cleo mentioned that she was turning 83 years old. She looks more like 60 years old, but even better still, she sounds like someone half that age. Her range is still off the charts as are her beautiful interpretations. She breathes new life into songs we’ve all heard so many times -a testament to the durable nature of these wonderful songs as well as her own ability to sing them.

Source: Wikipedia, YouTube

Tommy Dorsey

Thomas Francis Dorsey (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956[1]) was an American jazz trombonisttrumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as “The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”.[2] He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey.[3] After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid thirties, he led an extremely popular band from the late thirties into the nineteen fifties. Dorsey disliked improvisation and had a reputation for being a perfectionist.[4] He was volatile and also known to hire and fire (and sometimes rehire) musicians based on his mood.[5][6]

Thomas Francis Dorsey, Jr. was a native of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the second of four children born to Thomas Francis Dorsey, Sr. and Theresa (née Langton) Dorsey.[7] The Dorsey brothers’ two younger siblings were Mary and Edward (who died young).[8]

At age 15, Jimmy Dorsey recommended his brother Tommy as the replacement for Russ Morgan in the germane 1920s territory band “The Scranton Sirens.” Tommy and Jimmy worked in several bands, including those of Tal HenryRudy ValleeVincent LopezNathaniel Shilkret, and especially Paul Whiteman. In 1928, the Dorsey Brothers had their first hit with “Coquette” for OKeh records.[9] The Dorsey Brothers band signed with Decca records in 1934, having a hit with “I Believe In Miracles”.[10] Future bandleader Glenn Miller was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1934 and 1935, composing “Annie’s Cousin Fanny”[11]and “Dese Dem Dose” both recorded for Decca[12] for the band. Ongoing acrimony between the brothers, however, led to Tommy Dorsey’s walking out to form his own band in 1935, just as the orchestra was having a hit with “Every Little Moment.” [13]

Tommy Dorsey’s first band was formed out of the remains of the Joe Haymes band. The new band was popular from almost the moment it signed with RCA Victor with “On Treasure Island”, the first of four hits for the new band in 1935. The Dorsey band had a national radio presence in 1936 first from Dallas and then from Los Angeles. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra took over comedian Jack Pearl’s radio show in 1937.[14]

By 1939, Dorsey was conscious of criticism that his band lacked a jazz feeling and Dorsey hired arranger Sy Oliver, from the Jimmy Lunceford band to arrange for his band.[15][16] Sy Oliver’s arrangements for Tommy Dorsey include “Well Git It” and “On The Sunny Side of the Street”.[17] In 1940, Dorsey hired singer Frank Sinatra from bandleader Harry James. Frank Sinatra made eighty recordings from 1940 to 1942 with the Dorsey band.[18] Two of those eighty songs are “In The Blue of Evening” and “This Love of Mine”.[19] Frank Sinatra achieved his first great success as a vocalist in the Dorsey band and claimed he learned breath control from watching Dorsey play trombone.[20][21] In turn Dorsey said his trombone style was heavily influenced by that of Jack Teagarden.[22] Among Dorsey’s staff of arrangers was Axel Stordahl[23] who arranged for Frank Sinatra in his Columbia andCapitol records years. Another member of the Dorsey band was trombonist Nelson Riddle, who later had a partnership as one of Sinatra’s arrangers and conductors in the 1950s and afterwards.[24]Another noted Dorsey arranger, who in the nineteen-fifties, married and was professionally associated with Dorsey veteran Jo Stafford, was Paul Weston.[25] Bill Finegan, an arranger who left Glenn Miller’s civilian band, arranged for the Tommy Dorsey band from 1942 to 1950.[26]

The band featured a number of future famous instrumentalists, singers and arrangers in the thirties and forties, including trumpeters Zeke Zarchy[27]Bunny Berigan[28]Ziggy Elman[29][30]Carl “Doc” Severinsen[31], and Charlie Shavers[32], pianists Milt RaskinJess Stacy[33], clarinetists Buddy DeFranco[34]Johnny Mince[35], and Peanuts Hucko[36]. Others who played with Dorsey were drummers Buddy Rich[37]Louie Bellson[38]Dave Tough[39] and singers Jack Leonard[40]Edythe Wright[41]Jo Stafford with The Pied Pipers[42]Dick Haymes[43] and Connie Haines[44] In 1944, Dorsey hired The Sentimentalists who replaced The Pied Pipers[45]. Dorsey also performed with singer Connee Boswell[46] Dorsey hired ex-bandleader and drummer Gene Krupa after Krupa’s arrest and scandal for marijuana possession in 1943.[47] In 1942 Artie Shaw broke up his band and Dorsey hired the Shaw string section. “They’re used in the foreground and background (note some of the lovely obbligatos) for vocal effects and for Tommy’s trombone.”[48]

Dorsey branched out in the mid nineteen forties and owned two music publishing companies, Sun and Embassy.[49] After opening at the Los Angeles ballroom, The Hollywood Palladium on the Palladium’s first night, Dorsey’s relations with the ballroom soured and he opened a competing ballroom, The Casino Gardens circa 1944.[50] Dorsey also owned for a short time a trade magazine called The Bandstand.[51] Dorsey was also part owner of the Bob Chester band in 1940. He was also an early investor in Glenn Miller’s second successful band of 1938.[52]

Tommy Dorsey Playing, “Manhattan Seranade” featuring, Jo Stafford

Tommy Dorsey’s “Opus One”

Tommy Dorsey disbanded the orchestra at the end of 1946. Dorsey might have broken up his own band permanently following World War II, as many big bands did due to the shift in music economics following the war, but Tommy Dorsey’s album for RCA, “All Time Hits” placed in the top ten records in February, 1947. In addition, “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?” a single recorded by Dorsey became a top ten hit in March, 1947. Both of these successes made it possible for Dorsey to re-organize a big band in early 1947.[53] The Dorsey brothers were also reconciling. The biographical film of 1947, The Fabulous Dorseys describes sketchy details of how the brothers got their start from-the-bottom-up into the jazz era of one-nighters, the early days of radio in its infancy stages, and the onward march when both brothers ended up with Paul Whiteman before 1935 when The Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra split into two.[54] In the early nineteen fifties, Tommy Dorsey moved from RCA Victor back to the Decca record label.[55]

Jimmy Dorsey broke up his own big band in 1953. Tommy invited him to join up as a feature attraction and a short while later, Tommy renamed the band the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra featuring Jimmy Dorsey. In 1953, the Dorseys focused their attention on television.[56] On December 26, 1953, the brothers appeared with their orchestra on Jackie Gleason‘s CBS television show, which was preserved on kinescope and later released on home video by Gleason. The brothers took the unit on tour and onto their own television show, Stage Show, from 1955 to 1956. On one episode they introduced future noted rock musician Elvis Presley to national television audiences.[57]

Dorsey’s married life was varied and, at times, lurid.[58] His first wife was 16-year-old Mildred Kraft, with whom he eloped in 1922, when he was 17. They had two children, Patricia and Tom (nicknamed “Skipper”). They divorced in 1943 after Dorsey’s affair with his former singer Edythe Wright[59]. He then wed movie actress Pat Dane in 1943, and they were divorced in 1947[60], but not before he gained headlines for striking actor Jon Hall when Hall embraced Dorsey’s wife. Finally, Dorsey married Jane Carl New [61]on March 27, 1948 in Atlanta, Georgia. She had been a dancer at the Copacabana nightclub in New York City. Tommy and Jane Dorsey had two children, Catherine Susan and Steve.

On November 26, 1956, Tommy Dorsey died at age 51 in his Greenwich, Connecticut home. Dorsey had eaten a heavy meal and began choking in his sleep. He had begun taking sleeping pills regularly at this time and he was so sedated that he was unable to awaken and died from choking.[62] Jimmy Dorsey led his brother’s band until his own death of throat cancer the following year. At that point, trombonist Warren Covington assumed leadership of the band with Jane Dorsey’s blessing[63] as she owned the rights to her late husband’s band and name. Billed as the “Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Starring Warren Covington”, they topped the charts in 1958 with Tea For Two Cha-Cha.[64] After Covington led the band for a short period, Sam Donahue led it starting in 1961, continuing until the late sixties.[65] The Tommy Dorsey orchestra today is conducted by Buddy Morrow. Jane Dorsey died of natural causes at the age of 80, in Miami, Florida in 2003. Tommy and Jane Dorsey are interred together in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.[66]

Tommy Dorsey had a run of 286 Billboard chart hits.[67] The Dorsey band had seventeen number one hits with his orchestra in the 1930s and 1940s including: “On Treasure Island”, “The Music Goes ‘Round and Around”, “You”, “Marie”, “Satan Takes a Holiday”, “The Big Apple”, “Once in a While”, “The Dipsy Doodle”, “Our Love”, “All the Things You Are”, “Indian Summer”, and “Dolores”. He had two more number one hits in 1935 when he was a member of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra: “Lullaby of Broadway”, number one for two weeks, and “Chasing Shadows”, number one for three weeks. His biggest hit was “I’ll Never Smile Again”, featuring Frank Sinatra on vocals, which was number one for twelve weeks on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1940. “In the Blue of Evening”[68] was number 1 on the Billboardpop singles chart in 1943.[69]

Films:

  • Segar Ellis and His Embassy Club Orchestra (1929)needs citation
  • Alice Bolden and Her Orchestra (1929)[81]

Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra appear in the following films for the studios ParamountMGMSamuel GoldwynAllied Artists and United Artists[82]:

The Dorsey Brothers appear in the 1953 sixteen-minute Universal-International film called The Dorsey Brothers Encore.[93]

Source: Wikipedia

Alternate Bio:

Tommy Dorsey studied trumpet with his father, a part-time musician, and later changed to trombone. With his brother Jimmy he was leader of Dorsey’s Novelty Six and Dorsey’s Wild Canaries, then in the early 1920s played with the Scranton Sirens. Later in the decade Tommy worked with such prominent dance orchestras as those led by Jean Goldkette and Paul Whiteman. He then moved to New York, where he was in demand as a player in studio and pit orchestras. In 1934 he founded with Jimmy the successful but short-lived Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. After a public argument in 1935 the two separated, and Tommy organized a dance orchestra of his own, which quickly became one of the most popular of the swing era.

The band’s music was characterized by smooth, well-crafted arrangements played with great precision and, at times, with excellent jazz solos by Bunny Berigan, Yank Lawson, Buddy Rich, and others. One of its most successful recordings was Boogie Woogie (1938), an orchestral adaptation of a piano piece by Pine Top Smith; other hits included lively swing versions of Marieand Song of India (1937), both with brilliant solos by Berigan. However, Dorsey’s orchestra was known primarily for its renderings of ballads at dance tempos, frequently with singers such as Jack Leonard and Frank Sinatra.

After the collapse of the swing-band movement in the late 1940s Dorsey struggled to keep his band intact. Eventually he brought in his brother Jimmy and the two ran another version of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra (1953-6) which had some success, particularly in its television appearances.

The Pied Pipers – From the 1957 tribute to Tommy Dorsey. “I’ll Never Smile Again”

Although Dorsey recorded, especially in the 1920s, with Bix Beiderbecke and other major jazz players, he was not a notable jazz soloist. He was vastly admired by other musicians, however, for his technical skill on his instrument. His tone was pure, his phrasing was elegant, and he was able to play an almost seamless legato line; as a player of ballads he has rarely been surpassed.

Source: jazz.com

Benny Goodman

Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman[1] (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as “King of Swing“, “Patriarch of the Clarinet”, “The Professor”, and “Swing’s Senior Statesman”.

In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America. His January 16, 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz’s ‘coming out’ party to the world of ‘respectable’ music.”[2]

Goodman’s bands launched the careers of many major names in jazz, and during an era of segregation, he also led one of the first racially-integrated musical groups. Goodman continued to perform to nearly the end of his life, including exploring his interest in classical music.

Goodman was born in Chicago, Illinois, the ninth of twelve children of poor Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire,[3] who lived in the Maxwell Street neighborhood. His father was David Goodman, a tailor from Warsaw; his mother was Dora Rezinski (from Kaunas, Lithuania). His parents met in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Chicago before Benny was born.[1]

When Benny was 10, his father enrolled him and two of his older brothers in music lessons at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue. The next year he joined the boys club band at Jane AddamsHull House, where he received lessons from director James Sylvester. He also received two years of instruction from the classically trained clarinetist Franz Schoepp.[4] His early influences were New Orleans jazz clarinetists working in Chicago, notably Johnny Dodds, Leon Roppolo, and Jimmy Noone.[1] Goodman learned quickly, becoming a strong player at an early age: he was soon playing professionally in various bands.

When Goodman was 16, he joined one of Chicago’s top bands, the Ben Pollack Orchestra, with which he made his first recordings in 1926.[1] He made his first record on Vocalion under his own name two years later. Goodman recorded with the regular Pollack band and smaller groups drawn from the orchestra through 1929. The side sessions produced scores of sides recorded for the various dime-store record labels under an array of group names, including Mills’ Musical Clowns, Goody’s Good Timers, The Hotsy Totsy Gang, Jimmy Backen’s Toe Ticklers, Dixie Daisies, and Kentucky Grasshoppers.

Goodman’s father, David, was a working-class immigrant about whom Benny said (interview, Downbeat, February 8, 1956); “…Pop worked in the stockyards, shoveling lard in its unrefined state. He had those boots, and he’d come home at the end of the day exhausted, stinking to high heaven, and when he walked in it made me sick. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand the idea of Pop every day standing in that stuff, shoveling it around”.

On December 9, 1926, David Goodman was killed in a traffic accident. Benny had recently joined the Pollack band and was urging his father to retire, since he and his brother (Harry) were now doing well as professional musicians. According to James Lincoln Collier, “Pop looked Benny in the eye and said, ‘Benny, you take care of yourself, I’ll take care of myself.'” Collier continues: “It was an unhappy choice. Not long afterwards, as he was stepping down from a streetcar—according to one story—he was struck by a car. He never regained consciousness and died in the hospital the next day. It was a bitter blow to the family, and it haunted Benny to the end that his father had not lived to see the success he, and some of the others, made of themselves.”[5] “Benny described his father’s death as ‘the saddest thing that ever happened in our family.'”[6]

Goodman left for New York City and became a successful session musician during the late 1920s and early 1930s (mostly with Ben Pollack‘s band between 1926 and 1929). A notable March 21, 1928 Victor session found Goodman alongside Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Joe Venuti in the All-Star Orchestra, directed by Nat Shilkret.[7][8][9] He played with the nationally known bands of Ben Selvin, Red Nichols, Isham Jones (although he is not on any of Jones’s records), and Ted Lewis. He recorded sides for Brunswick under the name Bennie Goodman’s Boys, a band that featured Glenn Miller. In 1928, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller wrote the instrumental “Room 1411”, which was released as a Brunswick 78. He also recorded musical soundtracks for movie shorts; fans believe that Benny Goodman’s clarinet can be heard on the soundtrack of One A. M., a Charlie Chaplin comedy re-released to theaters in 1934.

During this period as a successful session musician, John Hammond arranged for a series of jazz sides recorded for and issued on Columbia starting in 1933 and continuing until his signing with Victor in 1935, during his success on radio. There were also a number of commercial studio sides recorded for Melotone between late 1930 and mid-1931 under Goodman’s name. The all-star Columbia sides featured Jack Teagarden, Joe Sullivan, Dick McDonough, Arthur Schutt, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins (for 1 session), and vocalists Jack Teagarden and Mildred Bailey, and the first two recorded vocals by a young Billie Holiday.

In 1934 Goodman auditioned for NBC‘s Let’s Dance, a well-regarded three-hour weekly radio program that featured various styles of dance music. His familiar theme song by that title was based on Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber. Since he needed new arrangements every week for the show, his agent, John Hammond, suggested that he purchase “hot” (swing) arrangements from Fletcher Henderson, an African-American musician from Atlanta who had New York’s most popular African-American band in the 1920s and early 1930s.[1]

Goodman, a wise businessman, helped Henderson in 1929 when the stock market crashed. He purchased all of Henderson’s song books, and hired Henderson’s band members to teach his musicians how to play the music.[10]

In early 1935, Goodman and his band were one of three bands (the others were Xavier Cugat and “Kel Murray” {r.n. Murray Kellner}) featured on Let’s Dance where they played arrangements by Henderson along with hits such as Get Happy and Jingle Bells from composer and arranger Spud Murphy.[11] Goodman’s portion of the program from New York, at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time, aired too late to attract a large East Coast audience. However, unknown to him, the time slot gave him an avid following on the West Coast (they heard him at 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time). He and his band remained on Let’s Dance until May of that year when a strike by employees of the series’ sponsor, Nabisco, forced the cancellation of the radio show. An engagement was booked at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Grill (filling in for Guy Lombardo), but the crowd there expected ‘sweet’ music and Goodman’s band was unsuccessful.[12] The band set out on a tour of America in May 1935, but was still poorly received. By August 1935, Goodman found himself with a band that was nearly broke, disillusioned and ready to quit.

In July 1935, a record of the Goodman band playing the Henderson arrangements of “King Porter Stomp” backed with “Sometimes I’m Happy,” Victor 78 25090, had been released to ecstatic reviews in both Down Beat and Melody Maker.[13] In Pittsburgh at the Stanley Theater some of the kids danced in the aisles.[14] This had made little impact on the band’s tour until August 19 when they arrived in Oakland to play at McFadden’s Ballroom[15]. There, Goodman and his artists Gene Krupa, Bunny Berigan, and Helen Ward found a large crowd of young dancers, raving and cheering the hot music they had heard on the “Let’s Dance” radio show.[16] Herb Caen wrote that “from the first note, the place was in an uproar.”[17] One night later, at Pismo Beach, the show was another flop, and the band thought the overwhelming reception in Oakland had been a fluke.[12]

Benny Goodman with Peggy Lee, “Why Don’t You Do Right”

Benny Goodman with Helen Forrest singing, “Perfidia”

The next night, August 21, 1935 at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, Goodman and his band began a three-week engagement. On top of the “Let’s Dance” airplay, Al Jarvis had been playing Goodman records on KFWB radio, and Los Angeles fans were primed to hear him in person.[18] Goodman started the evening with stock arrangements, but after an indifferent response, began the second set with the arrangements by Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy. According to Willard Alexander, the band’s booking agent, Krupa said “If we’re gonna die, Benny, let’s die playing our own thing.”[19] The crowd broke into cheers and applause. News reports spread word of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. Over the course of the engagement, the “Jitterbug” began to appear as a new dance craze,[20] and radio broadcasts carried the band’s performances across the nation.[12]

The Palomar engagement was such a marked success it is often exaggeratedly described as the beginning of the swing era.[12] Donald Clarke wrote “It is clear in retrospect that the Swing Era had been waiting to happen, but it was Goodman and his band that touched it off.”[12]

In November 1935 Goodman accepted an invitation to play in Chicago at the Joseph Urban Room at the Congress Hotel. His stay there extended to six months and his popularity was cemented by nationwide radio broadcasts over NBC affiliate stations. While in Chicago, the band recorded If I Could Be With You, Stompin’ At The Savoy, and Goody, Goody.[12] Goodman also played three special concerts produced by jazz aficionado and Chicago socialite Helen Oakley. These “Rhythm Club” concerts at the Congress Hotel included sets in which Goodman and Krupa sat in with Fletcher Henderson’s band, perhaps the first racially integrated big band appearance before a paying audience in the United States.[12] Goodman and Krupa played in a trio with Teddy Wilson on piano. Both combinations were well-received, and Wilson stayed on.

In his 1935–1936 radio broadcasts from Chicago, Goodman was introduced as the “Rajah of Rhythm.”[19] Slingerland Drum Company had been calling Krupa the “King of Swing” as part of a sales campaign, but shortly after Goodman and crew left Chicago in May 1936 to spend the summer filming The Big Broadcast of 1937 in Hollywood, the title “King of Swing” was applied to Goodman by the media.[12] Goodman left record company RCA for Columbia, following his agent and soon to be brother in law John Hammond.

At the end of June 1936, Goodman went to Hollywood, where, on June 30, 1936 his band began CBS’s “Camel Caravan,” its third, and, according to Connor and Hicks, its greatest of them all, sponsored radio show, co-starring Goodman and his old boss Nat Shilkret.[7][8]

In late 1937, Goodman’s publicist Wynn Nathanson attempted a publicity stunt by suggesting Goodman and his band should play Carnegie Hall in New York City. If this concert were to take place, then Benny Goodman would be the first Jazz band leader to perform in Carnegie hall. “Benny Goodman was initially hesitant about the concert, fearing for the worst; however, when his film Hollywood Hotel opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work. He gave up several dates and insisted on holding rehearsals inside Carnegie Hall to familiarize the band with the lively acoustics.”[22]

The concert was the evening of January 16, 1938. It sold out weeks before, with the capacity 2,760 seats going for the top price of US$2.75 a seat, for the time a very high price.[22] The concert began with three contemporary numbers from the Goodman band—”Don’t Be That Way,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “One O’Clock Jump.” They then played a history of jazz, starting with a Dixieland quartet performing “Sensation Rag.” Once again, initial crowd reaction, though polite, was tepid. Then came a jam session on “Honeysuckle Rose” featuring members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands as guests. (The surprise of the session: Goodman handing a solo to Basie’s guitarist Freddie Greene who was never a featured soloist but earned his reputation as the best rhythm guitarist in the genre—he responded with a striking round of chord improvisations.) As the concert went on, things livened up. The Goodman band and quartet took over the stage and performed the numbers that had already made them famous. Some later trio and quartet numbers were well-received, and a vocal on “Loch Lomond” by Martha Tilton provoked five curtain calls and cries for an encore. The encore forced Goodman to make his only audience announcement for the night, stating that they had no encore prepared but that Martha would return shortly with another number.[23]

By the time the band got to the climactic piece “Sing, Sing, Sing,” success was assured. This performance featured playing by tenor saxophonist Babe Russin, trumpeter Harry James, and Benny Goodman, backed by drummer Gene Krupa. When Goodman finished his solo, he unexpectedly gave a solo to pianist Jess Stacy. “At the Carnegie Hall concert, after the usual theatrics, Jess Stacy was allowed to solo and, given the venue, what followed was appropriate,” wrote David Rickert. “Used to just playing rhythm on the tune, he was unprepared for a turn in the spotlight, but what came out of his fingers was a graceful, impressionistic marvel with classical flourishes, yet still managed to swing. It was the best thing he ever did, and it’s ironic that such a layered, nuanced performance came at the end of such a chaotic, bombastic tune.”[24]

This concert has been regarded as one of the most significant in jazz history. After years of work by musicians from all over the country, jazz had finally been accepted by mainstream audiences. Recordings were made of this concert, but even by the technology of the day the equipment used was not of the finest quality. Acetate recordings of the concert were made, and aluminum studio masters were also cut.[22] Goodman took the newly discovered recording to his record company, Columbia, and a selection was issued on LP. These recordings have not been out of print since they were first issued. In early 1998, the aluminum masters were rediscovered and a new CD set of the concert was released based on these masters. The album released based on those masters went on to be one of the best selling live jazz albums of all time.

Pianist/arranger Mary Lou Williams[26] was a good friend of both Columbia records producer John Hammond and Benny Goodman. She first suggested to John Hammond that he see Charlie Christian.[27

Goodman continued his meteoric rise throughout the late 1930s with his big band, his trio and quartet, and a sextet. By the mid-1940s, however, big bands lost a lot of their popularity. In 1941, ASCAP had a licensing war with music publishers. In 1942 to 1944 and 1948, the musician’s union went on strike against the major record labels in the United States, and singers took the spot in popularity that the big bands once enjoyed. During this strike, the United States War Department approached the union and requested the production of the V-Disc, a set of records containing new and fresh music for soldiers to listen to.[30] Also, by the late 1940s, swing was no longer the dominant mode of jazz musicians.[31] By the 1940s, jazz musicians were borrowing advanced ideas from classical music. The recordings Goodman made in bop style for Capitol Records were highly praised by jazz critics. When Goodman was starting a bebop band, he hired Buddy Greco, Zoot Sims, Wardell Gray and a few other modern players.[32] Goodman enjoyed the bebop and cool jazz that was beginning to arrive in the 1940s. When Goodman heard Thelonious Monk, a celebrated pianist and accompanist to bop players Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Clarke, he remarked, “I like it, I like that very much. I like the piece and I like the way he played it. […] I think he’s got a sense of humor and he’s got some good things there.”[32] By 1953, Goodman completely changed his mind about bebop. “Maybe bop has done more to set music back for years than anything […] Basically it’s all wrong. It’s not even knowing the scales. […] Bop was mostly publicity and people figuring angles.”[34]

Goodman’s first classical recording dates from April 25, 1938 when he recorded Mozart‘s Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581, with the Budapest Quartet. After his bop period, Goodman furthered his interest in classical music written for the clarinet, and frequently met with top classical clarinetists of the day.

In 1949, when he was 40, Goodman decided to study with Reginald Kell, one of the world’s leading classical clarinetists. To do so, he had to change his entire technique: instead of holding the mouthpiece between his front teeth and lower lip, as he had done since he first took a clarinet in hand 30 years earlier, Goodman learned to adjust his embouchure to the use of both lips and even to use new fingering techniques. He had his old finger calluses removed and started to learn how to play his clarinet again—almost from scratch.[35]

Goodman commissioned and premiered works by leading composers for clarinet and symphony orchestra that are now part of the standard repertoire, namely Contrasts by Béla Bartók, Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 115 by Malcolm Arnold, Derivations for Clarinet and Band by Morton Gould, and Aaron Copland‘s Clarinet Concerto. While Leonard Bernstein‘s Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs was commissioned for Woody Herman‘s big band, it was premiered by Goodman. Woody Herman was the dedicatee (1945) and first performer (1946) of Igor Stravinsky‘s Ebony Concerto, but many years later Stravinsky made another recording, this time with Benny Goodman as the soloist.[36]

He made a further recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, in July 1956 with the Boston Symphony String Quartet, at the Berkshire Festival; on the same occasion he also recorded Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch. He also recorded the clarinet concertos of Weber and Carl Nielsen.[1]

Other recordings of classical repertoire by Goodman are:[37]

Benny Goodman’s band appeared as a specialty act in major musical features, including The Big Broadcast of 1937, Hollywood Hotel (1938), Syncopation (1942), The Powers Girl (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), The Gang’s All Here (1943), Sweet and Lowdown (1944) and A Song Is Born (1948). Goodman’s only starring feature was Sweet and Low Down (1944).

Goodman’s success story was told in the 1955 motion picture The Benny Goodman Story[39] with Steve Allen and Donna Reed. A Universal-International production, it was a follow up to 1954’s successful The Glenn Miller Story. The screenplay was heavily fictionalized, but the music was the real draw. Many of Goodman’s professional colleagues appear in the film, including Ben Pollack. Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton. and Harry James.

Goodman was regarded by some as a demanding taskmaster, by others an arrogant and eccentric martinet. Many musicians spoke of “The Ray”,[40] Goodman’s trademark glare that he bestowed on a musician who failed to perform to his demanding standards. Guitarist Allan Reuss incurred the maestro’s displeasure on one occasion, and Goodman relegated him to the rear of the bandstand, where his contribution would be totally drowned out by the other musicians. Vocalists Anita O’Day and Helen Forrest spoke bitterly of their experiences singing with Goodman.[41] “The twenty or so months I spent with Benny felt like twenty years,” said Forrest. “When I look back, they seem like a life sentence.” At the same time, there are reports that he privately funded several college educations and was sometimes very generous, though always secretly. When a friend once asked him why, he reportedly said, “Well, if they knew about it, everyone would come to me with their hand out.”[41]

Some suggest that Elvis Presley had the same success with rock and roll that Goodman achieved with jazz and swing: both helped bring black music to a young, white audience.[42] Some suggest that without Goodman there would not have been a “Swing Era“. It is true that many of Goodman’s arrangements had been played for years before by Fletcher Henderson‘s orchestra. While Goodman publicly acknowledged his debt to Henderson, many young white swing fans had never heard Henderson’s band. While most consider Goodman a jazz innovator, others maintain his main strength was his perfectionism and drive. Goodman was a virtuoso clarinetist and amongst the most technically proficient jazz clarinetists of all time. Goodman is also responsible for a significant step in racial integration in America. In the early 1930s, black and white jazz musicians could not play together in most clubs or concerts. In the Southern states, racial segregation was enforced by the Jim Crow laws. Benny Goodman broke with tradition by hiring Teddy Wilson to play with him and drummer Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Trio. In 1936, he added Lionel Hampton on vibes to form the Benny Goodman Quartet; in 1939 he added pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian to his band and small ensembles, who played with him until his death from tuberculosis less than three years later. This integration in music happened ten years before Jackie Robinson became the first black American to enter Major League Baseball. “[Goodman’s] popularity was such that he could remain financially viable without touring the South, where he would have been subject to arrest for violating Jim Crow laws.”[44] According to Jazz by Ken Burns, when someone asked him why he “played with that nigger” (referring to Teddy Wilson), Goodman replied, “I’ll knock you out if you use that word around me again”.

One of Benny Goodman’s closest friends off and on, from the 1930s onward was celebrated Columbia records producer John H. Hammond. Hammond and Goodman were so close that Hammond influenced Goodman’s move from RCA records to the newly created Columbia records in 1939.[1] Benny Goodman dated John H. Hammond‘s sister Alice Frances Hammond (1913–1978) for three months. She had previously been married to British politician George Duckworth, from whom she obtained a divorce. She and Goodman married on March 14, 1942. They had two daughters, Benjie and Rachel.[1] Both daughters studied music, though neither became the musical prodigy Goodman was.

Hammond had encouraged Goodman to integrate his band, persuading him to employ pianist Teddy Wilson. But Hammond’s tendency to interfere in the musical affairs of Goodman’s and other bands led to Goodman pulling away from him. In 1953 they had another falling-out during Goodman’s ill-fated tour with Louis Armstrong, which was produced by John Hammond.[1] Goodman appeared on a 1975 PBS salute to Hammond but remained at a distance. In the 1980s, following the death of Alice Goodman, John Hammond and Benny Goodman, both by then elderly, reconciled. On June 25, 1985, Goodman appeared at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City for “A Tribute to John Hammond”.[45]

After winning numerous polls over the years as best jazz clarinetist, Goodman was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1957.

Goodman continued to play on records and in small groups. One exception to this pattern was a collaboration with George Benson in the 1970s. The two met when they taped a PBS salute to John Hammond and re-created some of the famous Goodman-Charlie Christian duets.[1] Benson later appeared on several tracks of a Goodman album released as “Seven Come Eleven.” In general Goodman continued to play in the swing style he was most known for. He did, however, practice and perform classical clarinet pieces and commissioned compositions for clarinet. Periodically he would organize a new band and play a jazz festival or go on an international tour.

Here’s Benny and the band in 1985 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Better in 1985 than he was 50 years earlier!

Despite increasing health problems, he continued to play until his death from a heart attack in New York City in 1986 at the age of 77, in his home at Manhattan House, 200 East 66th Street. A longtime resident of Pound Ridge, New York, Benny Goodman is interred in the Long Ridge Cemetery, Stamford, Connecticut. The same year, Goodman was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[46] Benny Goodman’s musical papers were donated to Yale University after his death.[4]

He is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in the radio division.[47]

Recording:

  • A Jazz Holiday (1928, Decca)
  • Benny Goodman and the Giants of Swing (1929, Prestige)
  • BG and Big Tea in NYC (1929, GRP)
  • Swinging ’34 Vols. 1 & 2 (1934, Melodean)
  • Sing, Sing, Sing (1935, Bluebird)
  • The Birth of Swing (1935, Bluebird)
  • Original Benny Goodman Trio and Quartet Sessions, Vol. 1: After You’ve Gone (1935, Bluebird)
  • Stomping at the Savoy (1935, Bluebird)
  • Air Play (1936, Doctor Jazz)
  • Roll ‘Em, Vol. 1 (1937, Columbia)
  • Roll ‘Em, Vol. 2 (1937, CBS)
  • From Spirituals to Swing (1938, Vanguard)
  • Carnegie Hall Concert Vols. 1, 2, & 3 (Live) (1938, Columbia)
  • Mozart Clarinet Quintet (with Budapest String Quartet) (1938, Victor)
  • Ciribiribin (Live) (1939, Giants of Jazz)
  • Swingin’ Down the Lane (Live) (1939, Giants of Jazz)
  • Featuring Charlie Christian (1939, Columbia)
  • Eddie Sauter Arrangements (1940, Columbia)
  • Swing Into Spring (1941, Columbia)
  • Undercurrent Blues (1947, Blue Note)
  • Swedish Pastry (1948, Dragon)
  • The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (1950, Columbia)
  • Sextet (1950, Columbia)
  • BG in Hi-fi (1954, Capitol)
  • The Benny Goodman Story Volume 1 (1955?, Decca)
  • The Benny Goodman Story Volume 1 (1955?, Decca)
  • Mozart Clarinet concerto (with Boston symphomy) (1956)
  • The Great Benny Goodman (1956, Columbia)
  • Peggy Lee Sings with Benny Goodman (1957, Harmony)
  • Benny in Brussels Vols. 1 & 2 (1958, Columbia)
  • In Stockholm 1959 (1959, Phontastic)
  • The Benny Goodman Treasure Chest (1959, MGM)
  • Texaco’s Swing into Spring 59 (1959, Cunningham & Walsh, Inc.)
  • Swing With Benny Goodman And His Orchestra (1960s?, Columbia/Harmony)
  • Benny Goodman in Moscow (1962, RCA Victor)
  • Benny Goodman Today (London Records of (1967) Canada Ltd.)
  • Benny Goodman And His Orchestra (1977)
  • Benny Goodman Live at Carnegie Hall; 40th Anniversary Concert (1978)
  • Live! Benny Let’s Dance (1986)
  • The King Swings Star Line
  • Pure Gold (1992)
  • 1935–1938 (1998)
  • Portrait of Benny Goodman (Portrait Series) (1998)
  • Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert ’38 (1998)
  • Bill Dodge All-star Recording (1999)
  • 1941–1955 His Orchestra and His (1999)
  • Live at Carnegie Hall (1999)
  • Carnegie Hall: The Complete Concert (2006) Remastered again

Charlie Christian’s recordings and rehearsal dubs made with Benny Goodman in the early forties are widely known and were released by Columbia.

Source: Wikipedia.com, YouTube

Alternate Bio

Source: bennygoodman.com

Early Life

Benjamin David Goodman was born on May 30, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the ninth child of immigrants David Goodman and Dora Grisinsky Goodman, who left Russia to escape anti-Semitism. Benny’s mother never learned to speak English. His father worked for a tailor to support his large family, which eventually grew to include a total of 12 children, and had trouble making ends meet.

When Benny was 10 years old, his father sent him to study music at Kehelah Jacob Synagogue in Chicago. There, Benny learned the clarinet under the tutelage of Chicago Symphony member Franz Schoepp, while two of his brothers learned tuba and trumpet. He also played in the band at Jane Addams’ famous social settlement, Hull-House.

Talent and Success

Benny’s aptitude on the clarinet was immediately apparent. While he was still very young, he became a professional musician and played in several bands in Chicago. He played with his first pit band at the age of 11, and became a member of the American Federation of Musicians when he was 14, when he quit school to pursue his career in music. When his father died, 15-year-old Benny used the money he made to help support his family. During these early years in Chicago, he played with many musicians who would later become nationally renowned, such as Frank Teschemacher and Dave Tough.

When Benny was 16, he was hired by the Ben Pollack band and moved to Los Angeles. He remained with the band for four years, and became a featured soloist. In 1929, the year that marked the onset of the Great Depression and a time of distress for America, Benny left the Ben Pollack band to participate in recording sessions and radio shows in New York City.

Then, in 1933, Benny began to work with John Hammond, a jazz promoter who would later help to launch the recording careers of Billie Holiday and Count Basie, among many others. Hammond wanted Benny to record with drummer Gene Krupa and trombonist Jack Teagarden, and the result of this recording session was the onset of Benny’s national popularity. Later, in 1942, Benny would marry Alice Hammond Duckworth, John Hammond’s sister, and have two daughters: Rachel, who became a concert pianist, and Benji, who became a cellist.

Benny led his first band in 1934 and began a few-month stint at Billy Rose’s Music Hall, playing Fletcher Henderson’s arrangements along with band members Bunny Berigan, Gene Krupa and Jess Stacy. The music they played had its roots in the Southern jazz forms of ragtime and Dixieland, while its structure adhered more to arranged music than its more improvisational jazz counterparts. This gave it an accessibility that appealed to American audiences on a wide scale. America began to hear Benny ‘s band when he secured a weekly engagement for his band on NBC’s radio show “Let’s Dance,” which was taped with a live studio audience.

The King of Swing

The new swing music had the kids dancing when, on August 21, 1935, Benny’s band played the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. The gig was sensational and marked the beginning of the years that Benny would reign as King: the Swing Era.

Teenagers and college students invented new dance steps to accompany the new music sensation. Benny’s band, along with many others, became hugely successful among listeners from many different backgrounds all over the country.

During this period Benny also became famous for being colorblind when it came to racial segregation and prejudice. Pianist Teddy Wilson, an African-American, first appeared in the Benny Goodman Trio at the Congress Hotel in 1935. Benny added Lionel Hampton, who would later form his own band, to his Benny Goodman Quartet the next year. While these groups were not the first bands to feature both white and black musicians, Benny’s national popularity helped to make racially mixed groups more accepted in the mainstream. Benny once said, “If a guy’s got it, let him give it. I’m selling music, not prejudice.”

Benny’s success as an icon of the Swing Era prompted Time magazine in 1937 to call him the “King of Swing.” The next year, at the pinnacle of the Swing Era, the Benny Goodman band, along with musicians from the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands, made history as the first jazz band ever to play in New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.

Following the concert at Carnegie Hall, the Benny Goodman band had many different lineup changes. Gene Krupa left the band, among others, and subsequent versions of the band included Cootie Williams and Charlie Christian, as well as Jimmy Maxwell and Mel Powell, among others.

Enduring Icon of the Swing Era

The Swing Era began to come to a close as America got more involved in World War II. Several factors contributed to its waning success, including the loss of musicians to the draft and the limits that gas rationing put on touring bands. However, though the big band days were drawing to a close and new forms of music were emerging, Benny continued to play music in the swing style. He dabbled in the “bop” movement of the 1940s, but never succumbed, as the rest of the world did, to the allure of rock and roll influences in the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, Benny tried his hand at classical music, doing solos with major orchestras, and studying with internationally acclaimed classical clarinetist Reginald Kell.

Benny Goodman with Peggy Lee singing, “Somebody Else Is Taking My Place.”

These appearances further demonstrated Benny’s range as a musician. His talent was unquestionable from the time he was 10 years old, and in recording sessions throughout his career, he very rarely made mistakes. Krell had helped him to improve some of his techniques, making Benny’s playing even stronger.

In 1953, Benny’s band planned to join Louis Armstrong and his All Stars in a tour together, but the two band leaders argued and the tour never opened at Carnegie Hall, as had been planned. It is not certain whether the tour was canceled due to Benny’s illness or the conflict between the band leaders. The rest of the decade marked the spread of Benny’s music to new audiences around the world. The Benny Goodman Story, a film chronicling his life, was released in 1955, exposing new and younger audiences to his music. Benny also toured the world, bringing his music to Asia and Europe. When he traveled to the USSR, one writer observed that “the swing music that had once set the jitterbugs dancing in the Paramount aisles almost blew down the Iron Curtain.”

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Benny appeared in reunions with the other members of his quartet: Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton. In 1978, the Benny Goodman band also appeared at Carnegie Hall again to mark the 30th Anniversary of when they appeared in the venue’s first jazz concert.

In 1982, Benny was honored by the Kennedy Center for his lifetime achievements in swing music. In 1986, he received both an honorary doctorate degree in music from Columbia University and the Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. He continued to play the music that defined his lifetime in occasional concert dates until his death in June 1986, of cardiac arrest. He was laid to rest after a short nonsectarian service with around 40 family members and friends in attendance on June 15, 1986 at Long Ridge Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut. Through his amazing career, Benny Goodman did not change his style to conform to the latest trends, but retained the original sound that defined the Swing Era and made him the world renowned King of Swing.

Source: Benny Goodman.com

Blossom Dearie

Blossom Dearie (April 28, 1924 – February 7, 2009)[1] was an American jazz singer and pianist, often performing in the bebop genre and known for her distinctive girlish voice.[2]

Blossom Dearie was born on April 28, 1924 (or in 1926 according to some published sources), in East Durham, New York. Different sources state her given names variously as Blossom Margrete Dearie, Marguerite Blossom Dearie, or Margrethe Blossom Dearie. As a child she studied Western classical piano but switched to jazz in her teens. After high school Dearie moved to New York City to pursue a music career and began to sing in groups such as the Blue Flames (with the Woody Herman Orchestra) and the Blue Reys (with Alvino Rey‘s band) before starting her solo career.[2]

She moved to Paris, France, in 1952 and formed a vocal group, the Blue Stars of Paris, which included Michel Legrand‘s sister, Christiane, and Bob Dorough. In 1954 the group had a hit in France with a French-language version of “Lullaby of Birdland“. The Blue Stars would later evolve into the Swingle Singers. While in Paris she met her future husband, the Belgian flautist and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar. On her first solo album, released two years later, she plays the piano but does not sing.[2]

One of her most famous songs from that period is “The Riviera“, which was written and composed by Cy Coleman and Joseph McCarthy Jr. in 1956.[2]

After returning from France, Dearie made her first six American albums as a solo singer and pianist for Verve Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly in a small trio or quartet setting. Dave Garroway, host of The Today Show and an early fan of Dearie, featured her on several occasions, increasing her exposure with the popular audience. In 1962, she recorded a song for a radio commercial of Hires Root Beer. As it proved very popular, the LP Blossom Dearie Sings Rootin’ Songs was released as a premium item that could be ordered for one dollar and a proof of purchase.

In 1964, she recorded the album May I Come In? (Capitol/EMI Records). It was recorded, atypically for her, with an orchestra. During this same period, Dearie performed frequently in New York supper clubs and in 1966 made her first appearance at Ronnie Scott‘s club in London. She recorded four albums in the United Kingdom during the 1960s which were released on the Fontana label.

Blossom singing the Rodgers & Hart Tune, “Thou Swell” from her 1956 Verve Album.

After a period of inactivity, Dearie recorded the album That’s Just the Way I Want to Be (containing the cult song “Dusty Springfield“, an ode to the British pop star co-written by Dearie with Norma Tanega), which was released in 1970. In 1974, Dearie established her own label, Daffodil Records, which allowed her to have full control of the recording and distribution of her albums. Dearie appeared on television throughout her career, most notably giving her voice to the children’s educational series Schoolhouse Rock!. Some of her pieces in this series were written by her good friend Bob Dorough, the jazz singer and composer. Her voice can be heard on “Mother Necessity”,[3] “Figure Eight”[4] and “Unpack Your Adjectives”.[5]

“Here Blossom singing, the Schwartz – Dietz tune, “You Come From Rhode Island.” from the 1948 musical, “Inside USA”

-Takes Rhyme and poetic license to a new level!!

Songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom she collaborated for her 1975 song, I’m Shadowing You,[6] gave one of his final compositions to Dearie for the title song of her 1976 Daffodil album, My New Celebrity is You.[7][8]

Her distinctive voice and songs have been featured on the soundtracks of several films, including Kissing Jessica Stein, My Life Without Me, The Squid and the Whale and The Adventures of Felix. She also recorded songs with other singers, including Lyle Lovett.

Dearie continued to perform in clubs until 2006.[1] One of the last remaining supper-club performers, she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years.[2]

Dearie died on February 7, 2009, at her apartment in Greenwich Village, New York City.[1][9]

Source: Wikipedia

Blossom Dearie, Obit:

NEW YORK — Blossom Dearie, a classically trained pianist who transformed herself into a jazz singer with a unique baby-doll voice heard in New York and London cabarets for three decades, has died at 82.

Dearie died of natural causes Saturday at her Manhattan home, said her manager, Donald Schaffer. No specific cause of death was given.

“She lived for her music, and she lived to perform her music. She had impeccable taste,” Schaffer said.

Born April 29, 1926, in East Durham, N.Y., Marguerite Blossom Dearie dropped her first name to bolster a musical career that began with early training in piano and moved to jazz vocals. By the mid-1940s, she was a member of the Blue Flames, associated with Woody Herman’s orchestra and with the Alvino Rey band.

Dearie began her solo career in postwar Paris. With an octet called the Blue Stars, she recorded a French version of the jazz standard “Lullaby of Birdland.” She was briefly married to Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar and later signed a six-album contract with jazz impresario Norman Granz, the owner of Verve Records. The New York Times called the resulting albums cult classics.

Dearie appeared regularly at London nightclubs in the 1960s. She founded her own label, Daffodil Records, in New York in 1974, writing the music to lyrics by Johnny Mercer and others. She gained national attention by appearing on NBC’s “Today” show during its early years.

Dearie liked to poke fun at composers she thought pretentious or overrated. A favorite target was Andrew Lloyd Webber, responsible for the music for “Jesus Christ Superstar” and other hit musicals.

Her last record was the 2003 single “It’s All Right to be Afraid,” dedicated to victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. She last performed in 2006 at a cabaret in midtown Manhattan.

She is survived by an older brother, a niece and a nephew.

Source: msnbc.com

Nat King Cole

Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965) known professionally as Nat “King” Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was one of the first black Americans to host a television variety show, and has maintained worldwide popularity since his untimely death; he is widely considered one of the most important musical personalities in United States history.

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1919[1] (some sources erroneously list his birth year as 1917). At the age of 4,[2] his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. There his father became a Baptist minister. Cole learned to play the organ from his mother, Perlina, the church organist. His first performance, at age four, was of “Yes! We Have No Bananas“. He began formal lessons at the age of 12, eventually learning not only jazz and gospel music but also European classical music, performing, as he said, “from Johann Sebastian Bach to Sergei Rachmaninoff“.

Cole had three brothers; Eddie, Ike, and Freddy. The family lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Cole would sneak out of the house and hang around outside the clubs, listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone. He participated in Walter Dyett‘s renowned music program at DuSable High School.

Inspired by the playing of Earl Hines, Cole began his performing career in the mid 1930s while still a teenager, adopting the name “Nat Cole”. His older brother, Eddie Cole, a bass player, soon joined Cole’s band, and the brothers made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie’s name. They were also regular performers at clubs. In fact, Cole acquired his nickname “King” performing at one jazz club, a nickname presumably reinforced by the otherwise unrelated nursery rhyme about Old King Cole. He was also a pianist in a national tour of Broadway theatre legend Eubie Blake‘s revue, “Shuffle Along”. When it suddenly failed in Long Beach, California, Cole decided to remain there.

Cole and three other musicians formed the “King Cole Swingers” in Long Beach and played in a number of local bars before getting a gig on the Long Beach Pike for US$90 ($1,413 in current dollar terms) per week.

In January 1937, Cole married dancer Nadine Robinson, who was also in the musical Shuffle Along, and moved to Los Angeles. The trio consisted of Cole on piano, Oscar Moore on guitar, and Wesley Prince on double bass. The trio played in Failsworth throughout the late 1930s and recorded many radio transcriptions. Cole’s role was that of piano player and leader of the combo.

It is a common misconception that Cole’s singing career did not start until a drunken barroom patron demanded that he sing “Sweet Lorraine”. In fact, Cole has gone on record saying that the fabricated story “sounded good, so I just let it ride.” Cole frequently sang in between instrumental numbers. Noticing that people started to request more vocal numbers, he obliged. Yet the story of the insistent customer is not without some truth. There was a customer who requested a certain song one night, but it was a song that Cole did not know, so instead he sang “Sweet Lorraine”. The trio was tipped 15 cents for the performance, a nickel apiece (Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography, Maria Cole with Louie Robinson, 1971).

During World War II, Wesley Prince left the group and Cole replaced him with Johnny Miller. Miller would later be replaced by Charlie Harris in the 1950s. The King Cole Trio signed with the fledgling Capitol Records in 1943. Revenues from Cole’s record sales fueled much of Capitol Records’ success during this period. The revenue is believed to have played a significant role in financing the distinctive Capitol Records building on Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles. Completed in 1956, it was the world’s first circular office building and became known as “the house that Nat built”.

Cole was considered a leading jazz pianist, appearing, for example, in the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts (credited on the Mercury Record labels as “Shorty Nadine,” apparently derived from the name of his wife at the time). His revolutionary lineup of piano, guitar, and bass in the time of the big bands became a popular setup for a jazz trio. It was emulated by many musicians, among them Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and blues pianists Charles Brown and Ray Charles. He also performed as a pianist on sessions with Lester Young, Red Callender, and Lionel Hampton. The Page Cavanaugh Trio, with the same setup as Cole, came out of the chute about the same time, at the end of the war. It’s still a tossup as to who was first, although it is generally agreed that the credit goes to Cole.

Cole’s first mainstream vocal hit was his 1943 recording of one of his compositions, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” based on a black folk tale that his father had used as a theme for a sermon. Johnny Mercer invited him to record it for the fledgling Capitol Records label. It sold over 500,000 copies, proving that folk-based material could appeal to a wide audience. Although Cole would never be considered a rocker, the song can be seen as anticipating the first rock and roll records. Indeed, Bo Diddley, who performed similar transformations of folk material, counted Cole as an influence.

Beginning in the late 1940s, Cole began recording and performing more pop-oriented material for mainstream audiences, often accompanied by a string orchestra. His stature as a popular icon was cemented during this period by hits such as “The Christmas Song” (Cole recorded that tune four times: on June 14, 1946, as a pure Trio recording, on August 19, 1946, with an added string section, on August 24, 1953, and in 1961 for the double album The Nat King Cole Story; this final version, recorded in stereo, is the one most often heard today), “Nature Boy” (1948), “Mona Lisa” (1950), “Too Young” (the #1 song in 1951),[3] and his signature tune “Unforgettable” (1951). While this shift to pop music led some jazz critics and fans to accuse Cole of selling out, he never totally abandoned his jazz roots; as late as 1956, for instance, he recorded an all-jazz album After Midnight. Cole had one of his last big hits two years before his death, in 1963, with the classic “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer”, which reached #6 on the Pop chart.

Nat King Cole, joined by the Oscar Peterson Trio and Coleman Hawkins singing, Mitchel Parish’s, “Sweet Lorraine.”

On November 5, 1956, The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC-TV. The Cole program was the first of its kind hosted by an African-American, which created controversy at the time.[4]

Beginning as a 15-minute pops show on Monday night, the program was expanded to a half hour in July 1957. Despite the efforts of NBC, as well as many of Cole’s industry colleagues—many of whom, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Laine, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, and Eartha Kitt worked for industry scale (or even for no pay)[4] in order to help the show save money—The Nat King Cole Show was ultimately done in by lack of a national sponsorship.[4] Companies such as Rheingold Beer assumed regional sponsorship of the show, but a national sponsor never appeared.[4]

Nat King Cole singing, “Caravan”

The last episode of “The Nat King Cole Show” aired December 17, 1957. Cole had survived for over a year, and it was he, not NBC, who ultimately decided to pull the plug on the show.[5] NBC, as well as Cole himself, had been operating at an extreme financial loss.[citation needed] Commenting on the lack of sponsorship his show received, Cole quipped shortly after its demise, “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.”[citation needed] This statement, with the passing of time, has fueled the urban legend that Cole’s show had to close down despite enormous popularity. In fact, the Cole program was routinely beaten by the competition at ABC, which was then riding high with its travel and western shows.[citation needed] In addition, musical variety series have always been risky enterprises with a fickle public; among the one-season casualties are Frank Sinatra in 1957, Judy Garland in 1963, and Julie Andrews in 1972.

In January 1964, Cole made one of his final television appearances on The Jack Benny Program. In his typically magnanimous fashion, Benny allowed his guest star to steal the show. Cole sang “When I Fall in Love” in perhaps his finest and most memorable performance. Cole was introduced as “the best friend a song ever had” and traded very humorous banter with Benny. Cole highlighted a classic Benny skit in which Benny is upstaged by an emergency stand-in drummer. Introduced as Cole’s cousin, five-year-old James Bradley Jr. stunned Benny with incredible drumming talent and participated with Cole in playful banter at Benny’s expense. It would prove to be one of Cole’s last performances.

Cole fought racism all his life and refused to perform in segregated venues. In 1956, he was assaulted on stage during a concert in Birmingham, Alabama, (while singing the song “Little Girl”) by three members of the North Alabama White Citizens Council (a group led by Education of Little Tree author Asa “Forrest” Carter, himself not among the attackers), who apparently were attempting to kidnap him. The three male attackers ran down the aisles of the auditorium towards Cole and his band. Although local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, the ensuing melée toppled Cole from his piano bench and injured his back. Cole did not finish the concert and never again performed in the South. A fourth member of the group who had participated in the plot was later arrested in connection with the act. All were later tried and convicted for their roles in the crime.[6]

In 1956, he was contracted to perform in Cuba and wanted to stay at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana, but was not allowed to because it operated a color bar. Cole honored his contract, however, and the concert at the Tropicana was a huge success. The following year, he returned to Cuba for another concert, singing many songs in Spanish. There is now a tribute to him in the form of a bust and a jukebox in the Hotel Nacional.[7]

Throughout the 1950s, Cole continued to rack up hit after hit, including “Smile“, “Pretend“, “A Blossom Fell“, and “If I May“. His pop hits were collaborations with well-known arrangers and conductors of the day, including Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Ralph Carmichael. Riddle arranged several of Cole’s 1950s albums, including his first 10-inch long-play album, his 1953 Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love. In 1955, his single “Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup” reached #7 on the Billboard chart. Jenkins arranged Love Is the Thing, which hit #1 on the album charts in April 1957.

In 1958, Cole went to Havana, Cuba to record Cole Español, an album sung entirely in Spanish. The album was so popular in Latin America, as well as in the USA, that two others of the same variety followed: A Mis Amigos (sung in Spanish and Portuguese) in 1959 and More Cole Español in 1962. A Mis Amigos contains the Venezuelan hit “Ansiedad,” whose lyrics Cole had learned while performing in Caracas in 1958. Cole learned songs in languages other than English by rote.

After the change in musical tastes during the late 1950s, Cole’s ballad singing did not sell well with younger listeners, despite a successful stab at rock n’ roll with “Send For Me” (peaked at #6 pop). Along with his contemporaries Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett, Cole found that the pop singles chart had been almost entirely taken over by youth-oriented acts. In 1960, Nat’s longtime collaborator Nelson Riddle left Capitol Records for Frank Sinatra’s newly formed Reprise Records label. Riddle and Cole recorded one final hit album, Wild Is Love, based on lyrics by Ray Rasch and Dotty Wayne. Cole later retooled the concept album into an off-Broadway show, “I’m With You.”

Cole did manage to record some hit singles during the 1960s, including the country-flavored hit “Ramblin’ Rose” in August 1962 as well as “Dear Lonely Hearts“, “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer” (his final hit, reaching #6 pop), and “That Sunday, That Summer“.

Cole performed in many short films, sitcoms, and television shows and played W. C. Handy in the film St. Louis Blues (1958). He also appeared in The Nat King Cole Story, China Gate, and The Blue Gardenia (1953). Cat Ballou (1965), his final film, was released several months after his death.

Cole was a heavy smoker of Kool menthol cigarettes, believing smoking kept his voice low (Cole would smoke several cigarettes in rapid succession before a recording for this very purpose). The many years of smoking caught up with him, resulting in his death from lung cancer on February 15, 1965 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Cole was just 45.

Cole’s funeral was held at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. His remains were interred inside Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. His last album, L-O-V-E, was recorded in early December 1964—just a few days before he entered the hospital for cancer treatment—and was released just prior to his death. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Albums chart in the spring of 1965. A “Best Of” album went gold in 1968. His 1957 recording of “When I Fall In Love” reached #4 in the UK charts in 1987.

In 1983, an archivist for EMI Electrola Records, EMI (Capitol’s parent company) Records’ subsidiary in Germany, discovered some songs Cole had recorded but that had never been released, including one in Japanese and another in Spanish (“Tu Eres Tan Amable”). Capitol released them later that year as the LP “Unreleased.”

Cole was inducted into both the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

In 1991, Mosaic Records released “The Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio,” an 18-compact-disc set consisting of 349 songs. (This special compilation also was available as a 27 LP set.)

Cole’s youngest brother, Freddy Cole, and Cole’s daughter Natalie are also singers. In the summer of 1991, Natalie Cole and her father had a hit when Natalie mixed her own voice with her father’s 1961 rendition of “Unforgettable” as part of a tribute album to her father’s music. The song and album of the same name won seven Grammy awards in 1992.

Source: Wikipedia

Alternative Bio:NNDB.com

AKA Nathaniel Adams Coles

Born: 17-Mar1917
Birthplace: Montgomery, AL
Died: 15-Feb1965
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA
Cause of death: Cancer – Lung
Remains: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Unforgettable

Father: Rev. Edward James Coles, Sr.
Mother: Perlina Adams Coles
Wife: Nadine Robinson (dancer, m. 1936)
Wife: Maria Ellington (singer, m. 28-Mar-1948)
Daughter: Natalie Maria Cole (b. 2-Jun-1950)
Daughter: Carol (“Cookie”, actress, adopted in 1949, b. 17-Oct-1944, d. 18-May-2009 lung cancer)
Son: Nat Kelly Cole (adopted 1959)
Daughter: Timolin (twins, b. 26-Sep-1961)
Daughter: Casey (twins, b. 26-Sep-1961)

High School: Wendell Phillips High School, Chicago, IL

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2000 (pioneer)
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6659 Hollywood Blvd (recordings)
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6229 Hollywood Blvd (television)
Risk Factors: Smoking

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Cat Ballou (24-Jun-1965)
Night of the Quarter Moon (4-Mar-1959)
St. Louis Blues (7-Apr-1958)
Istanbul (15-Jan-1957)
Autumn Leaves (1-Aug-1956)
The Scarlet Hour (Apr-1956)
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1-Oct-1954)
Small Town Girl (10-Apr-1953) Himself
The Blue Gardenia (23-Mar-1953) Himself
Breakfast in Hollywood (26-Feb-1946) Himself