Lizabeth Scott

Lizabeth Scott (born September 29, 1922) is an American actress and singer widely known for her film noir roles.

She was born Emma Matzo (some sources mistakenly give her family name as “Motzas”) in the Pine Brook section of Scranton, Pennsylvania, one of six children, to Ruthenian[1] parents who had emigrated from Uzhgorod, in what is now Ukraine. She attended Central High School and Marywood College (now Marywood University).

“From Out Of Nowhere”

She later went to New York City and attended the Alvienne School of Drama. In late 1942, she was eking out a precarious living with a small Midtown Manhattan summer stock company when she got a job as understudy for Tallulah Bankhead in Thornton Wilder‘s play The Skin of Our Teeth. However, Scott never had an opportunity to substitute for Bankhead.

When Miriam Hopkins was signed to replace Bankhead, Scott quit and returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. She then received a call that Gladys George, who was signed to replace Hopkins, was ill, and Scott was needed back at the theatre. She went on in the leading role of “Sabina”, receiving a nod of approval from critics at the age of 20. The following night, George was out again and Scott went on in her place.

Soon afterward, Scott was at the Stork Club when film producer Hal Wallis asked who she was, unaware that an aide had already arranged an interview with her for the following day. When Scott returned home, however, she found a telegram offering her the lead for the Boston run of The Skin of Our Teeth. She could not turn it down. She sent Wallis her apologies and went on the road.

Though the Broadway production, in which she was credited as “Girl”, christened her “Elizabeth”, she dropped the “e” the day after the opening night in Boston, “just to be different”.

1958 on the “Big Record” Wow-what a surprise! Wait until you hear what a wonderful voice she had!!

A photograph of Scott in Harper’s Bazaar magazine was seen by film agent Charles Feldman. He admired the fashion pose and took her on as a client. Scott made her first screen test at Warner Brothers, where she and Wallis finally met. Though the test was bad, the producer recognized her potential. As soon as Wallis set up shop at Paramount, she was signed to a contract. Her film debut was in You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings.

Paramount publicity dubbed Scott “The Threat,” in order to create an onscreen persona for her similar to Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake. Scott’s smoky sensuality and husky voice lent itself to the film noir genre and, beginning with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, the studio cast her in a series of noir thrillers. Film historian Eddie Muller has noted that no other actress has appeared in so many noir films, with more than three quarters of her 20 films qualifying.[2] 

When Miriam Hopkins was signed to replace Bankhead, Scott quit and returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. She then received a call that Gladys George, who was signed to replace Hopkins, was ill, and Scott was needed back at the theatre. She went on in the leading role of “Sabina”, receiving a nod of approval from critics at the age of 20. The following night, George was out again and Scott went on in her place.

“Lovely Way To Spend An Evening”

Soon afterward, Scott was at the Stork Club when film producer Hal Wallis asked who she was, unaware that an aide had already arranged an interview with her for the following day. When Scott returned home, however, she found a telegram offering her the lead for the Boston run of The Skin of Our Teeth. She could not turn it down. She sent Wallis her apologies and went on the road.

Lizabeth Scott on Hal Wallis

Though the Broadway production, in which she was credited as “Girl”, christened her “Elizabeth”, she dropped the “e” the day after the opening night in Boston, “just to be different”.

A photograph of Scott in Harper’s Bazaar magazine was seen by film agent Charles Feldman. He admired the fashion pose and took her on as a client. Scott made her first screen test at Warner Brothers, where she and Wallis finally met. Though the test was bad, the producer recognized her potential. As soon as Wallis set up shop at Paramount, she was signed to a contract. Her film debut was in You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings.

Paramount publicity dubbed Scott “The Threat,” in order to create an onscreen persona for her similar to Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake. Scott’s smoky sensuality and husky voice lent itself to the film noir genre and, beginning with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, the studio cast her in a series of noir thrillers. Film historian Eddie Muller has noted that no other actress has appeared in so many noir films, with more than three quarters of her 20 films qualifying.[2]

Tribute To Lizabeth “Men”

When Miriam Hopkins was signed to replace Bankhead, Scott quit and returned to her drama studies and some fashion modeling. She then received a call that Gladys George, who was signed to replace Hopkins, was ill, and Scott was needed back at the theatre. She went on in the leading role of “Sabina”, receiving a nod of approval from critics at the age of 20. The following night, George was out again and Scott went on in her place.

Soon afterward, Scott was at the Stork Club when film producer Hal Wallis asked who she was, unaware that an aide had already arranged an interview with her for the following day. When Scott returned home, however, she found a telegram offering her the lead for the Boston run of The Skin of Our Teeth. She could not turn it down. She sent Wallis her apologies and went on the road.

Though the Broadway production, in which she was credited as “Girl”, christened her “Elizabeth”, she dropped the “e” the day after the opening night in Boston, “just to be different”.

A photograph of Scott in Harper’s Bazaar magazine was seen by film agent Charles Feldman. He admired the fashion pose and took her on as a client. Scott made her first screen test at Warner Brothers, where she and Wallis finally met. Though the test was bad, the producer recognized her potential. As soon as Wallis set up shop at Paramount, she was signed to a contract. Her film debut was in You Came Along (1945) opposite Robert Cummings.

Paramount publicity dubbed Scott “The Threat,” in order to create an onscreen persona for her similar to Lauren Bacall or Veronica Lake. Scott’s smoky sensuality and husky voice lent itself to the film noir genre and, beginning with The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin, the studio cast her in a series of noir thrillers. Film historian Eddie Muller has noted that no other actress has appeared in so many noir films, with more than three quarters of her 20 films qualifying.[2] 

The dark blonde actress was initially compared to Bacall because of a slight resemblance and a similar voice, even more so after she starred with Bacall’s husband, Humphrey Bogart, in the 1947 noir thriller Dead Reckoning. At the age of 25, Scott’s billing and portrait were equal to Bogart’s on the film’s lobby posters and in advertisements. The film was the first of many femme fatale roles for Scott.

She also starred in Desert Fury (1947), a noir filmed in Technicolor, with John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey and Mary Astor. In it, she played Paula Haller, who, on her return from college, falls for gangster Eddie Bendix (Hodiak), and faces a great deal of opposition from the others. Scott was paired with Lancaster, Corey and Kirk Douglas in Wallis’ I Walk Alone (1948), a noirish story of betrayal and vengeance. In 1949, she starred as a vicious femme fatale in Too Late for Tears. The film is unusual for featuring her as the main character, rather than the supporting role most women were relegated to in film noirs of the period.

Having being known professionally as Lizabeth Scott for 4½ years, she appeared at the courthouse in Los Angeles, on October 20, 1949 and had her name legally changed. Another courtroom appearance came several years later, in 1955, when she sued Confidential magazine for stating that she spent her off-work hours with “Hollywood’s weird society of baritone babes” (a euphemism for a lesbian) in an article which claimed Scott’s name was found on the clients’ list belonging to a call-girl agency.[3] The suit was dismissed on a technicality. After completing Loving You in 1957, Elvis Presley‘s second film, Scott retired from the screen. Later that year, she recorded her album, Lizabeth. The next few years saw Scott occasionally guest-star on television, including a 1963 episode of Burke’s Law. After completing her final major film role, Scott signed a recording contract with Vik Records (a subsidiary of RCA Victor) and recorded an album with Henri Rene and his orchestra (in Hollywood on October 28, 29 and 30, 1957). Simply titled Lizabeth, the tracks are a mixture of torch songs and playful romantic ballads. The recordings were arranged by George Wyle and Henri Rene, while Herman Diaz, Jr. produced .The album is currently available on CD and online via iTunes.

Despite some rumored romances, no positive records of a relationship exist, and Scott is believed to have never married. She has no children. At least one book has claimed she was a mistress of married film producer Hal Wallis.[4]

While she continued to make some guest appearances on various television shows throughout the 1960s, much of her private time was dedicated to classes at the University of Southern California.[5] In 1972, she made her last film appearance, in Pulp, which starred Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney. After that, she mostly kept away from public view and has declined many interview requests.

She did, however, appear on stage at an American Film Institute tribute to Hal Wallis in 1987. In 2001, she was listed as one of the celebrity guests for the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, which screened in the USA on CBS. More recently, she was photographed next to an image of herself on the poster for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers at the AMPAS Centennial Celebration for Barbara Stanwyck on 16 May 2007. She recently attended another screening of the film on June 28, 2010 as part of AMPAS‘s “Oscar Noir” series at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

In 2003, Scott spoke substantially to Bernard F. Dick about her time in films for his biography of producer Hal Wallis. In the book, the author remarks that during his conversation with Scott in a restaurant, Scott (in her 80s) was still able to recite her opening monologue from The Skin of Our Teeth, which she performed on stage at age 20. The book, Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars, includes the most comprehensive account of Scott’s career available.

Lizabeth Scott has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures at 1624 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Sources: wikipedia, youtube, nndb.com, imdb.com

Filmography

No Title Year Studio Role Director Other cast members
1. You Came Along 1945 Paramount Ivy Hotchkiss John Farrow Robert Cummings, Don DeFore
2. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946 Hal Wallis Productions/
Paramount
Toni Marachek Lewis Milestone Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas
3. Dead Reckoning 1947 Columbia Coral “Dusty” Chandler John Cromwell Humphrey Bogart
4. Desert Fury 1947 Paramount Paula Haller Lewis Allen John Hodiak, Burt Lancaster, Mary Astor
5. Variety Girl 1947 Paramount Herself George Marshall Mary Hatcher, Olga San Juan, DeForest Kelley
6. I Walk Alone 1948 Paramount Kay Lawrence Byron Haskin Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas
7. Pitfall 1948 United Artists Mona Stevens André De Toth Dick Powell, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr
8. Too Late for Tears 1949 United Artists Jane Palmer Byron Haskin Don DeFore, Dan Duryea
9. Easy Living 1949 RKO Liza “Lize” Wilson Jacques Tourneur Victor Mature, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts
10. Paid in Full 1950 Paramount Jane Langley William Dieterle Robert Cummings, Diana Lynn
11. Dark City 1950 Paramount Fran Garland William Dieterle Charlton Heston, Viveca Lindfors
12. The Company She Keeps 1951 RKO Joan Wilburn John Cromwell Jane Greer, Dennis O’Keefe
13. Two of a Kind 1951 Columbia Brandy Kirby Henry Levin Edmund O’Brien, Terry Moore
14. Red Mountain 1951 Paramount Chris William Dieterle Alan Ladd, Arthur Kennedy
15. The Racket 1951 RKO Irene Hayes John Cromwell Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan
16. Stolen Face 1952 Hammer / Lippert Alice Brent and
Lily Conover (after surgery)
Terence Fisher Paul Henreid, André Morell
17. Scared Stiff 1953 Paramount Mary Carroll George Marshall Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Carmen Miranda
18. Bad for Each Other 1953 Columbia Helen Curtis Irving Rapper Charlton Heston, Dianne Foster
19. Silver Lode 1954 RKO Rose Evans Allan Dwan John Payne, Dan Duryea
20. The Weapon 1957 Republic Elsa Jenner Val Guest Steve Cochran, Herbert Marshall
21. Loving You 1957 Paramount Glenda Markle Hal Kanter Elvis Presley, Wendell Corey
22. Pulp 1972 United Artists Princess Betty Cippola Mike Hodges Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney


Teddy Wilson

Theodore Shaw “Teddy” Wilson (November 24, 1912 – July 31, 1986) was an American jazz pianist whose sophisticated and elegant style was featured on the records of many of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

“Rosetta”

“Where or When”

Wilson was born in Austin, Texas in 1912. He studied piano and violin at Tuskegee Institute. After working in the Lawrence “Speed” Webb band, with Louis Armstrong and also “understudying” Earl Hines in Hines’s Grand Terrace Cafe Orchestra, Wilson joined Benny Carter‘s Chocolate Dandies in 1933. In 1935 he joined the Benny Goodman Trio (which consisted of Goodman, Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, later expanded to the Benny Goodman Quartet with the addition of Lionel Hampton). The trio performed during the big band’s intermissions. By joining the trio, Wilson became the first black musician to perform in public with a previously all-white jazz group.

Noted jazz producer and writer John Hammond was instrumental in getting Wilson a contract with Brunswick, starting in 1935, to record hot swing arrangements of the popular songs of the day, with the growing jukebox trade in mind. He recorded fifty hit records with various singers such as Lena Horne and Helen Ward, including many of Billie Holiday‘s greatest successes. During these years he also took part in many highly regarded sessions with a wide range of important swing musicians, such as Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Red Norvo, Buck Clayton and Ben Webster.

“But Not For Me”

Wilson formed his own short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at Café Society from 1940 to 1944. He was dubbed the “Marxist Mozart” by Howard “Stretch” Johnson due to his support for left-wing causes (he performed in benefit concerts for The New Masses journal and for Russian War Relief, and chaired the Artists’ Committee to elect Benjamin J. Davis).[1] In the 1950s he taught at the Juilliard School. Wilson can be seen appearing as himself in the motion picture The Benny Goodman Story (1955).

Wilson lived quietly in suburban Hillsdale, New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s.[2] He performed as a soloist and with pick-up groups until the final years of his life. Teddy Wilson died on July 31, 1986.

He was interred at Fairview Cemetery in New Britain, CT

“Don’t Be That Way” with Benny Goodman

“Body and Soul”

“What A Little Moonlight Can Do” with Billie Holiday

Sources: wikipedia, youtube. musicsover.com

Alt. Bio

Teddy Wilson
November 24, 1912 – July 31, 1986

Teddy Wilson was a much respected jazz pianist who came from the great music city of Austin, TX.  His smooth-as-silk style could be heard on recordings by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday.  One of Wilson’s first professional gigs was playing alongside Bennny Goodman and Gene Krupa in the Benny Goodman Trio, later a quartet with the addition of Lionel Hampton.  When he joined the trio, Wilson became the first known African-American to perform professionally in public with a previously all-white group.  With the help of legendary producer,  John Hammond, Wilson recorded some 50 hit records throughout the late ’30s.  By the ’40s, he was leading his own sextet, and by the ’50s, he was teaching at Julliard.   Wilson spent the last couple of decades of his life quietly enjoying his life close to home until his passing of natural causes on 1986.

Django Reinhardt

Jean[1] “Django” Reinhardt (French pronunciation[dʒɑ̃ɡo ʁenɑʁt]; 23 January 1910 – 16 May 1953) was a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer.

Reinhardt was born into a family of Manouche gypsies and invented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique (sometimes called ‘hot’ jazz guitar) that has since become a living musical tradition within French gypsy culture. With violinist Stéphane Grappelli, he co-founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, described by critic Thom Jurek[2] as “one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz.” Reinhardt’s most popular compositions have become jazz standards, including “Minor Swing“, “Daphne”, “Belleville“, “Djangology“, “Swing ’42” and “Nuages” (French for “Clouds”). Not only did Reinhardt put his stamp upon jazz, his “hot” string band music also had an impact upon the parallel development of Texas’s western swing string bands, which eventually fed into the wellspring of what is now called country music.

“Limehouse Blues”

Born in Liberchies, Pont-à-Celles, Belgium, Reinhardt’s nickname “Django” is Romani for: “I awake.”[3] He spent most of his youth in Romani (Gypsy) encampments close to Paris, playing banjo, guitar and violin from an early age. His family made cane furniture for a living, but included several keen amateur musicians.[4]

“Nuages”

 

 

 

He started by playing the violin and eventually moved on to a banjo-guitar that had been given to him as a gift. His first known recordings (in 1928) were of him playing the banjo. During this period he was influenced by two older gypsy musicians, the banjoist Gusti Mahla and the guitarist Jean “Poulette” Castro. Able to make a living in music from his early teens onwards, he received little formal education and acquired the rudiments of literacy only in adult life.[5] 

At the age of 18, Reinhardt was injured in a fire that ravaged the caravan he shared with Florine “Bella” Mayer, his first wife.[6] They were very poor, and to supplement their income Bella made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper. Consequently, their home was full of this highly flammable material. Returning from a performance late one night, Reinhardt apparently knocked over a candle on his way to bed. While his family and neighbours were quick to pull him to safety, he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralysed and the third and fourth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again and intended to amputate one of his legs.[7] Reinhardt refused to have the surgery and left the hospital after a short time; he was able to walk within a year with the aid of a cane.

“Sweet Georgia Brown”

 

His brother Joseph Reinhardt, an accomplished guitarist himself, bought Django a new guitar. With rehabilitation and practice he relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralysed. He played all of his guitar solos with only two fingers, and used the two injured digits only for chord work.[8]

 

The period between 1929 and 1933 were formative years for Reinhardt. He decisively abandoned the banjo-guitar in favour of the guitar. He was particularly impressed with Louis Armstrong, whom he called “my brother”.[10] Shortly afterwards he made the acquaintance of a young violinist with very similar musical interests—Stéphane Grappelli. In the absence of paid work in their radical new music, the two would jam together, along with a loose circle of other musicians.[11] 

In 1934, Reinhardt and Parisian violinist Grappelli were invited to form the “Quintette du Hot Club de France” with Reinhardt’s brother Joseph and Roger Chaput on guitar, and Louis Vola on bass.[12] Occasionally Chaput was replaced by Reinhardt’s best friend and fellow Gypsy Pierre “Baro” Ferret. The vocalist Freddy Taylor participated in a few songs, such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Nagasaki“. Jean Sablon was the first singer to record with him more than 30 songs from 1933. They also used their guitars for percussive sounds, as they had no true percussion section. The Quintette du Hot Club de France was one of the few well-known jazz ensembles composed only of string instruments.[13] In Paris on 14 March 1933 Reinhardt recorded two takes each of “Parce que je vous aime” and “Si, j’aime Suzy”, vocal numbers with lots of guitar fills and guitar support, using three guitarists along with an accordion lead, violin, and bass.[14] In August of the following year recordings were also made with more than one guitar (Joseph Reinhardt, Roger Chaput, and Django), including the first recording by the Quintette.[15] In both years, it should be noted, the great majority of recordings featured a wide variety of horns, often in multiples, piano, and other instruments.[14][15]

“Honeysuckle Rose”

 

 

Reinhardt also played and recorded with many American jazz musicians such as Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Rex Stewart (who later stayed in Paris), and participated in a jam-session and radio performance with Louis Armstrong. Later in his career he played with Dizzy Gillespie in France. Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France used the Selmer Maccaferri, the first commercially available guitars with a cutawayand later with an aluminium-reinforced neck.

When World War II broke out, the original quintet was on tour in the United Kingdom. Reinhardt returned to Paris at once,[16] leaving his wife behind. Grappelli remained in the United Kingdom for the duration of the war. Reinhardt reformed the quintet, with Hubert Rostaing on clarinet replacing Grappelli’s violin. In 1943, Reinhardt married Sophie “Naguine” Ziegler in Salbris, with whom he had a son, Babik Reinhardt, who became a respected guitarist in his own right.[17]

Reinhardt survived the war unscathed, unlike many Romanis who perished in the Porajmos, the Nazi regime’s systematic murder of several hundred thousand European Romanis. He was well aware of the dangers he and his family faced, and made several unsuccessful attempts to escape occupied France. Part of the explanation of his survival is that he enjoyed the protection of (surreptitiously) jazz-loving Nazis such as Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, nicknamed “Doktor Jazz”.[18]

Reinhardt’s problems were compounded by the fact that the Nazis also officially disapproved of jazz.[19] Reinhardt became interested in other musical directions, attempting to write a Mass for the Gypsies and Symphony (since he could not write music, he would perform improvisations to be notated by an assistant). His modernist piece Rhythm Futurwas intended to be acceptably unjazzlike.

“Rose Room”

After the war, Reinhardt rejoined Grappelli in the UK, and then went on in fall 1946 to tour the United States as a special guest soloist with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, when he got to play with many notable musicians and composers such as Maury Deutsch. At the end of the tour he played two nights at Carnegie Hall; he received a great ovation and took six curtain calls on the first night. Despite Reinhardt’s great pride in touring with Ellington (one of his two letters to Grappelli relates this excitement), he was not really integrated into the band, playing only a few tunes at the end of the show, backed by Ellington, with no special arrangements written for him. After the tour he secured an engagement at Café Society Uptown, where he did four solos a day backed by the resident band. These performances drew large audiences.[20]

Reinhardt was reportedly given an untuned guitar to play with (discovered after strumming a chord) and it took him five whole minutes to tune it. Having failed to take along a Selmer Modèle Jazz, the guitar he made famous, he had to play on a haphazardly borrowed electric guitar, which failed to bring out the delicacy of his style.[21]

“Brazil”

 

Django Reinhardt was among the first people in France to appreciate the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, whom he sought when he arrived in New York. They were both on tour at the time, however.

He had been promised some jobs in California but these failed to materialize and he got tired of waiting. He returned to France in February 1947.[22] 

After returning to France, Reinhardt spent the remainder of his days re-immersed in Romani life, having found it difficult to adjust to the modern world. He would sometimes show up for concerts without a guitar or amp, or wander off to the park or beach, and on a few occasions he refused even to get out of bed. Reinhardt was known by his band, fans, and managers to be extremely unpredictable. He would often skip sold-out concerts to simply “walk to the beach” or “smell the dew”.[23]

 

In Rome in 1949, Reinhardt recruited three Italian jazz players (on bass, piano, and snare drum) and recorded his final (double) album, “Djangology”. He was once again united with Grappelli, and returned to his acoustic Selmer-Maccaferri. The recording was discovered and issued for the first time in the late 1950s.[24] 

“Stardust”

 

In 1951, he retired to Samois-sur-Seine, near Fontainebleau, where he lived until his death. He continued to play in Paris jazz clubs and began playing electric guitar, despite his initial hesitation towards the instrument. His final recordings made in the last few months of his life show him moving in a new musical direction; he had assimilated the vocabulary of bebop and fused it with his own melodic style.[25]

“Georgia On My Mind”

 

 

While walking from the Avon railway station after playing in a Paris club he collapsed outside his house from a brain haemorrhage.[26] It was a Saturday and it took a full day for a doctor to arrive[27] and Reinhardt was declared dead on arrival at the hospital in Fontainebleau at age 43.

Sources: wikipedia, imdb.com, nmdb.com, youtube

Discography

 

 

 

 

Shirley Horn

Shirley Valerie Horn (May 1, 1934 in Washington, D.C. – October 20, 2005) was an American jazz singer and pianist. [1] 

Shirley Horn was a master pianist and vocalist who embarked on a career in jazz, despite her intention to become a classical musician—racism being the deciding factor. Ms. Horn collaborated with many jazz greats including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Toots Thielemans, Ron Carter, Carmen McRae, Wynton Marsalis and others. She was most noted for her ability to accompany herself with nearly incomparable independence and ability on the piano while singing, something described by arranger Johnny Mandel as “like having two heads”, and for her rich, lush voice, a smoky contralto, which was described by noted producer and arranger Quincy Jones as “like clothing, as she seduces you with her voice”. Although she could swing as strongly as any straight-ahead jazz artist, Horn’s reputation rode on her exquisite ballad work.

“Return To Paradise”

“A Time For Love”

Shirley Horn began playing piano at an early age, and had thoughts as a teenager of becoming a classical artist. She was offered a scholarship to Juilliard, but turned it down for financial reasons. She then became enamored with the famous U Street jazz area of Washington (largely destroyed in the 1968 riots), sneaking into jazz clubs before she was of legal age.

Horn first achieved fame in 1960, when Miles Davis “discovered” her. Davis’ praise had particular resonance in two respects, one because he was so highly respected as a musician, and two because he rarely had anything positive to publicly offer about any musician at that time. Shirley had, though, recorded several songs with violinist Stuff Smith in 1959 both as a pianist and a singer. After her discovery by Davis, she recorded albums on different small labels in the early 1960s, eventually landing contracts with larger labels Mercury Records and Impulse Records. She was popular with jazz critics, but did not achieve significant popular success.

“All My Tomorrows”

“The Look Of Love”

Quincy Jones attempted to make Horn into a pure vocalist in several recording sessions, something he later hinted may have been a mistake. Horn was also disturbed by the changes in popular music in the 1960s following the arrival of The Beatles, and stated “I will not stoop to conquer” in largely rejecting efforts to remake her into a popular singer. From the late-1960s, she concentrated on raising her daughter Rainy with her husband, Shepherd Deering (whom she had married in 1955) and largely limited her performances to her native Washington, D.C., while she often worked full-time as an office worker.

Horn was nominated for nine Grammy Awards during her career, winning in 1999 for Jazz Vocal Album for I Remember Miles, a tribute to her friend and encourager.

Preferring to perform in small settings, as with her trio, she recorded with orchestra too, as on the 1992 album Here’s to Life, which is highly rated by her fans, the title song (lyrics by Phyllis Molinary, music by Artie Butler) being generally considered as her signature song. Arranger Johnny Mandel won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) for that album. A video documentary of Horn’s life and music was released at the same time as “Here’s To Life” and shared its title. At the time, Mandel commented that Horn’s piano skill was comparable to that of the noted jazz great Bill Evans. A follow-up was made in 2001, named You’re My Thrill.

Shirley Horn kept for twenty five years the same rhythm section: Charles Ables (bass) and Steve Williams (drums). Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times (February 2, 1995) about “the importance of bassist Charles Ables and drummer Steve Williams to the Horn’s sound. Working with boundless subtlety, following her every spontaneous twist and turn, they were the ideal accompanists for a performer who clearly will tolerate nothing less than perfection“.

“Here’s To Life”

“Quietly There”

She was officially recognized by the 109th US Congress for “her many achievements and contributions to the world of jazz and American culture”, and performed at The White House for several U.S. presidents. Horn was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in 2002.

She was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2005., (the highest honors that the United States bestows upon jazz musicians).

“I loves You Porgy”

Due to health problems in the early 2000s, Horn had to cut back on her appearances. From 2002, a foot amputation (from complications of diabetes) forced her to leave the piano playing to pianist George Mesterhazy. In late 2004, Horn felt able to play piano again, and recorded a live album for Verve live at Manhattan’s Au Bar with trumpet player Roy Hargrove, which did not satisfy her. It remains unreleased except for three tracks on But Beautiful – The Best of Shirley Horn.

She had been battling breast cancer and diabetes when she died from complications of a massive stroke, aged 71. She is interred at Ft. Lincoln Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, nmdb.com, imdb.com