A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Sir George Shearing – The 60s.


Welcome to the new music slot on Wednesdays with William Price King and the Jazz greats. We are now into the 60s and William picks up with George Shearing as he moves into the decade where pop and rock were beginning to take over the charts.

George Shearing did well in the transition period in music when many less popular musicians and singers faded away. He was versatile and with several styles to offer his audiences, he spent the 60s building on his reputation and popularity. He never forgot his classical roots and he began to introduce this element back into his own concerts as well as performing as a soloist with larger orchestras. His quintet would often feature as well later in the performance giving George the best of both worlds.

Here is George Shearing, playing with Robert Farnon and his Orchestra – Our Waltz. From the album, How Beautiful Is Night.

There were 26 albums released in the 1960s most with Capitol records but also individual albums for other labels including George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers for Jazzland. Also Jazz Moments with Blue Note in 1962, Smooth and Swinging for MGM also in 1962 and a live album for Request in 1966 that was not released until 2006 called Live Jazz from Club 15.

Here is No Hard Feelings from George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers.

Apart from the classical and Jazz elements to his music and performances there was also another major facet to George Shearing’s music and that was the introduction of Afro-Cuban jazz in the 50s. Some of the Latin musicians of the 60s had been inspired by George’s pioneering work in this style and some of the artists that he worked with included Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria and Armando Paraza.

Here is an early recording of this style The George Shearing Quintet with Drume Negrita

In 1969 after a very lucrative partnership with Capitol Records which had included hit albums such as On The Sunny Side of the Strip, White Satin and collaborations with Nat King Cole, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, George moved on and started his own label, Sheba, and released six albums between 1970 and 1973. He also began to phase out the Quintet working in trios or duos with his solo work with orchestras.

This move to his own label did lower his public profile to a degree without the marketing machine of a major label, but things began to change again when he signed with MPS Records which was a German jazz record label founded in 1968. MPS stands for “Musik Produktion Schwarzwald” (Music Production Black Forest). George recorded eleven albums with the label including The Reunion with Stephane Grappelli. Here is George Shearing with Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on Bass and Irish jazz guitarist Louis Stewart with 500 Miles High from the MPS Trio Sessions

The 70s also were notable for an award received in May 1975, When George received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

George Shearing headed into the 80s signed to a new label Concord Jazz that was to prove to be a very popular and successful partnership with over 20 albums in the next 10 years.

Next week the 80s and two great artists join forces when Mel Torme and George Shearing hit the stage.

Links
Buy his music. http://www.amazon.com/George-Shearing/e/B000APYEA2

Additional material.
http://www.georgeshearing.net/bio.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shearing

The Previous three episodes.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-sir-george-shearing/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/william-price-king-and-man-and-his-music-meets-sir-george-shearing/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-sir-george-shearing-collaborations/

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.

cover of Home by William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

LINKS
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

Please feel free to comment, share and reblog to spread the music.. thanks for dropping by.  William and Sally.

 

 

A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Sir George Shearing – Collaborations


We now move into the mid-50s and 60s and the decision to move to America permanently has offered George Shearing to work with the best in music. William Price King now picks up the story……

George Shearing and his Jazz Combos became more and more successful and popular through the 50s and 60s and he would release 48 albums, some in collaboration with other jazz artists of the day such as Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson and Mel Torme.

Most of George’s albums in the early 50s were with the MGM label but as his popularity grew other record companies wanted to sign him. From 1955 until 1969 he formed a very lucrative association with the Capitol label releasing several runaway albums including Beauty and the Beat with Peggy Lee in 1959.

The Rodgers and Hart – Nobody’s Heart featuring Peggy Lee – vocals; George Shearing – piano; Toots Thielemans – guitar; Ray Alexander – vibraphone; Warren Chiasson,
Jimmy Bond – double bass; Roy Hayens – drums; Armando Peraza – conga.

George had invented a unique quintet sound with the combination of piano, electric guitar, bass, drums and the introduction of a vibraphone. This enabled him to develop further a style called ‘locked hands’ which he had picked up when playing with and listening to other bands in the 40s such as Lionel Hampton and the King Cole Trio. The written description does not really explain the style of ‘locked hands’ very well if you are non-musical. The style involves stating the melody on the piano with closely knit, harmonised block chords with the vibraphone and guitar tripling the melody in unison… See what I mean. But you might get a better idea by watching this short (under two minutes) tutorial actually on the piano.

Here is George and another wonderful female jazz artist Nancy Wilson — vocals The George Shearing Quintet: George Shearing — piano Dick Garcia — guitar Warren Chiasson — vibraphone Ralph Pena — double bass Armando Peraza — percussion Vernel Fournier — drums recorded in 1961 which was a very busy year for the quintet.

Next week we will be looking at two other styles that George brought into his performances very successfully which were Latin and a focus on his first style which was Classical. Over the 60s he also began showcasing smaller lineups trios, duos and of course his own solo work. Particularly with a duo, George was able to perform more freely within the styles that he favoured most, moving effortlessly between classical to bebop in the same number. He certainly was sought after to accompany other greats of the music world and here is another wonderful collaboration with Nat King Cole.

Here is Let There Be Love written in 1940 with music by Lionel Rand and lyrics by Ian Grant, recorded by Nat King Cole and the George Shearing Quintet on their 1961 album for Capitol – Nat King Cole Sings and George Shearing Plays.

George’s career was firmly established by the end of the 60s and audiences around the world delighted in the variety of his styles both in his larger combos and his solo work. The early influences that set him on the path to musical success still featured in his own playing including both ends of the spectrum of boogie-woogie and classical. He was admired by other pianists of the day for his light and refined touch and his ability to move seamlessly between styles and he added the odd surprise when he would pick up the accordion or sing on occasion.

It is fitting to end this episode on collaborations in the 60s with another great performer Mel Torme and the song How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?

Mel Torme and George Shearing – composer Tony Scibetta and lyricist Johnny Mercer’s masterpiece is covered in masterful style by Shearing & Tormé. This comes from a 1983 Concord recording, their second together, entitled “Top Drawer.”

Links
Buy his music. http://www.amazon.com/George-Shearing/e/B000APYEA2

Additional material.
http://www.georgeshearing.net/bio.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Shearing

The Previous two episodes.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-sir-george-shearing/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/william-price-king-and-man-and-his-music-meets-sir-george-shearing/

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.

cover of Home by William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

LINKS
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

 

 

A Man and His Music – William Price King meets Mel Tormé – Part Two – 1940s


Welcome to part two of the Mel Tormé story with William Price King. William has enjoyed a long and successful career as a Jazz composer, musician and singer and over the last thirty years he has delighted audiences with his performances of the classic Jazz standards sung by iconic artists of the last century such as Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé.

You can find a link at the bottom of the post to William’s directory and his previous series on the life and music of Nat King Cole, but this week it is time to look at the 1940s and the start of Mel Tormé’s long career in music, television and film.

Mel torme 16 years old ebay

Mel Tormé was born in 1925 in Chicago to hard working Russian Jewish immigrant parents whose surname was actually Torma.

The Blackhawk Restaurant

The Blackhawk restaurant – image by http://www.diningchicago.com

His singing career took off at a very early age and at four years old he was entertaining the diners at The Blackhawk Restaurant in Chicago. The Blackhawk was opened in 1920 and the Big Band headliners at the time were the Coon-Sanders Orchestra. Quite the mouthful especially for a small boy of four who sang ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’ for the first time with them in 1929.

This was a hugely popular venue and in later years Mel would perform there from time to time along with the other great musicians. Here is the Coon- Sanders Orchestra in 1928 with “Rhythm King” Courtesy of Phonmono78s

From 1933, between the ages of 8 and 16, Mel acted on radio in two soap operas of the day, The Romance of Helen Trent and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. During this period Mel turned his hand to song writing and by only 16 years old, his first published song, “Lament to Love,” was a hit for the very popular trumpeter Harry James. He also sang, arranged and played drums in a band led by Chico Marx who also headlined at the Blackhawk Restaurant.

Here is Mel’s first song performed by Harry James – Courtesy of MusicProf78

Whilst he sang and wrote music, Mel was also finishing his education at Chicago’s Hyde Park High School. Whilst at night and weekends he was playing and singing at the upmarket eatery, during the day he played drums in his school’s drum and bugle corps. He also debuted in his first film alongside another up and coming actor and singer, Frank Sinatra in “Higher and Higher” in 1943 before graduating from High School in 1944.

album Mel-tones

On graduating from school Mel formed a vocal quintet “Mel Tormé and His Mel-Tones” among the first of the jazz-influenced vocal groups. The group had several hits with Artie Shaw’s band and on their own, including Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” Courtesy of The Record Changer.

Although Mel would not go solo until 1947, he did record romantic hits for Decca Records and the Musicraft label with the Arti Shaw Orchestra from 1945-1948. In 1947 he began his solo career at the famous New York nightclub, Copacabana and it is here that he allegedly received his nickname ‘The Velvet Fog’ bestowed by a local DJ as a tribute. Although Mel was not impressed and referred to it as ‘this Velvet Frog voice’. This is at odds with what the critics felt about his voice as illustrated in this quote from Will Friedwald Jazz Singing

“Tormé works with the most beautiful voice a man is allowed to have, and he combines it with a flawless sense of ‘pitch’… As an improviser he shames all but two or three other “scat singers” and quite a few horn players as well.”

Along with Mel’s developing solo career came a part in the Rogers & Hart film Words and Music in which he sang ‘Blue Moon’ and a revival of The Mel Torme Show from his teen years. More movie song writing assignments came along for studios such as Walt Disney and in early 1949 he was signed to Capitol Records.

Blue Moon

The hits kept coming including ‘Careless Hands,’ ‘Again’ and ‘Blue Moon’ through to ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,’ in July1950. The focus was on the music and his film career faded away in comparison to Frank Sinatra who was becoming increasingly popular across both film and music industries. Mel felt that he had been born just a few years too late to benefit from the huge popularity of both the era of the Big Band and Hollywood musicals.

His last chart hit for nearly ten years was with ‘Anywhere I Wander’ in November 1952 which was to be prophetic, as Mel Torme entered the 50s with no real direction and began to compete with the new popular music that was taking over the charts.

Part three next Saturday with the challenges that Mel faced in the 50s and early 60s. Join us on Wednesday for a special performance by William of one of the timeless songs of the era – My Funny Valentine.

Additional sources
Album cover http://www.cdandlp.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torme
Photo – Ebay.

Link to Part One. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme/

pricestudio

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/

LINKS
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484