Smorgasbord 2016 Review – A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Kurt Elling


Logo 2

The top three music posts of 2016 were Kurt Elling part one and two and Diana Krall part one and over the next week I will feature all of them.. You can catch up with all the Jazz and Classical series for the last two years in these two directories.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-jazz-and-music-series/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Here is part one of the Kurt Elling series.

Welcome to the latest series A Man and his Music – William Price King meets jazz royalty. In the last two years we have reviewed the lives and work of many incredible artists  and we are now going to take a look at the life and work of a very contemporary musician.. Kurt Elling is originally from Chicago and like many of the top jazz artists began his music career by focusing on the classics.

William Price King now picks up the story….

1995

In the series so far we have explored the talent, techniques and unique qualities that make a musical artist stand out from the crowd. Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Nina Simone, Quincy Jones, and Natalie Cole are not only incredible musical talents but also superb performers.  Over the last 50 years other styles of music have naturally evolved with new generations of musicians and vocalists, but as we saw with Diana Krall, there is still little substitute for the classic jazz standards, especially when given a new interpretation by some of our contemporary artists.

In this first part of the new series I am giving you a brief summary of Kurt Elling’s early life and you can read more at the links I have included at the end of the post.  Over the next three weeks we will be looking in more detail at some of his fifteen albums and stand out performances.

I have been browsing through the reviews for Kurt Elling’s albums and whilst there are many reviews by critics, I was more interested in what those who buy the albums have to say. Here is just one by a fan from his home town of Chicago and over the next few weeks I will share more.

The Best in Chicago Jazz By Shadasious on August 15, 2003 Format: Audio CD

As a lifelong Chicagoan and as a person who has heard jazz constantly from local stars and family alike, I have been a Kurt Elling fan since his 1st CD in 1995. This is his best recording, all of his skills are on display and he is in top form. Vocalese is his specialty, taking a previously recorded tune and writing lyrics for that tune that was a hit on its own instrumental right. Songs like my fave Winelight, A Time to Say Goodbye and Never My Love, never sounded better. Laurence Hobgood his collaborater, producer, arranger and pianist is a marvel on the 88 keys and Stefon Harris adds just the right touches on the vibes to make this a celebrated recording. If you want to get a feel of current Chicago and contemporary jazz, get this CD first, then listen to other recordings by Kurt and then check out our other innovative hometown jazz people, Patricia Barber, Ken Vandermark, Grazyna Auguscik, Orbert Davis & Jim Gailloreto, you won’t be disappointed or bored.
The Early Years.

Kurt Elling was born in 1967, the son of Martha and Henry Elling and was fortunate enough to be part of a family that already celebrated music. His father was the Choirmaster at a Lutheran church and through Kurt’s childhood, he would sing in choirs as well as becoming an accomplished musician playing a number of instruments. These included the French horn, piano and the drums.

Whilst his musical education was focused more on classical compositions, the influence of artists now being featured on television in the 70s was to play a role in Kurt’s future career. He listened to Tony Bennett and wondered what it might be like to sing with a big band rather as part of a choral ensemble. In the meantime however he continued to devote his free time to his performances with the college choir.

He was to say later: “When it was undeniably uncool and geeky and all that, to be in the choir, I did it anyway, because it was reliably beautiful, and it was rewarding, and it gave me gifts of experience and friendships.”

That experience included singing the National Anthem with his high school madrigal choir Joyful Sounds, under the direction of Joyce Kortz in front of a crowd of over 40,000 people. A taste of things to come.

Kurt majored in history and minored in religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, but still found time to sing in the 70 voice Gustavus Choir, an a cappella choir that performed works from a variety of different composers, allowing him to develop his technical skills. His performance skills were also honed performing with the choir in the USA and also on a European tour.

His schedule still allowed time to appreciate other styles of music and in a later in an interview with Craig Jolley of All About Jazz online, he had this to say about his growing interest in jazz.

“A friend of mine down the hall was a big jazz fan, and he started hipping me to Dexter Gordon, Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock. It seemed like a natural thing to start singing that music. I turned to Ella Fitzgerald right away because with her scat-singing, she went beyond the usual boring pattern of singer-horn solo-singer.”

This new appreciation of jazz let Kurt to join both the college’s jazz orchestra and student combos although at this time his focus still remained in the classic realm.

Following his time at Gustavus Adolphus College, Kurt returned in 1989 to Illinois to start his graduate studies in philosophy and ethics at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. His music was not neglected and he began playing a weekly jazz gig and whilst not hugely lucrative, it did reinforce Kurt’s new found love of the style. He was fortunate to find a mentor and teacher in Karl Johnson, the house pianist at Milt Trenier’s, a basement club in Chicago. However, the challenge of studying philosophy and religion during the day and spending his night-times in jazz clubs became too complex and jazz won.

Kurt was to say in an interview: “I realized that my fun and the joy of my life was happening a lot more in clubs with jazz musicians than it was in the classroom with academic people,” the singer told Fred Jung of Jazz Weekly online. “I sort of figured out that I had a chance of doing this kind of thing and decided to take my shot at it and started to work in earnest toward becoming a jazz musician.”

Now began the task of establishing himself as a jazz musician and as Kurt moved into the 90s he worked hard to get performances across various venues, supplementing his income at private functions. Spare time was spent in publicising his talent in Chicago.

One of his influences during this time was Mark Murphy an American jazz singer based in New York. He was known for his use of vocalese (a style of singing in which singers put words to jazz tunes, especially to previously improvised instrumental solos) and vocal improvisations with both melody and lyrics.

Mark Murphy was now in his early 60s and had received some wonderful accolades over the years including being the recipient of the Done Beat magazine jazz poll for Best Male Vocalist of the Year and also received six Grammy award nominations for Best Vocal Jazz Performance during his career.

Kurt began to also include improvisations and reworkings of some of the standards and when some criticised this move from the classic interpretations, he commented.

“Well, in jazz, the way it exists is for every performer to find his own voice and to speak what he really thinks and play the notes that he feels sounds good, and so it would be apathetical of the music for me to do anything other than what I really hear,” he explained to Fred Jung. “I could probably make a lot more money playing what other people have already played and they’ve already done the work to make that popular, Frank Sinatra or Harry Connick or something like that. I think the truest respect that you can pay to the music of somebody who is a great artist like Frank Sinatra, or Betty Carter, or Jon Hendricks, is to try to figure out your own thing and to build on what they’ve done and to learn from them, but more importantly, to become yourself and to have your own thing to say and to be an artist in your own right.”

Next time in the Kurt Elling story we join his career in the mid-90s as he becomes a regular performer at the Green Mill Club and his first recordings for Blue Note.

As a taste of things to come here is Kurt Elling with Nature Boy uploaded by cyberjaz

Buy Kurt Elling Music: http://www.amazon.com/Kurt-Elling/e/B000APALCM
Find out more about Kurt Elling: http://kurtelling.com/
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Elling
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kurtelling
Touring schedule: http://kurtelling.com/touring/

About William Price King

williampriceking

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 jazz album, ‘Home,’ is 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.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

You can find the other artists in the previous series here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-jazz-and-music-series/

Thank you for dropping by today and hope you have enjoyed the introduction to this talented artist.. Sally

Summer Jazz with William Price King – The Music of Mel Torme – Part Two


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.

Last week we briefly touched on Mel’s life and work and now it is time to take a look at his early life and career.  I will hand you over to William to pick up the story.

William and his music

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-tonesOn 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.

The hits kept coming including ‘Careless Hands,’ ‘Again’ and ‘Blue Moon’ through to ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,’ in July 1950. 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 Wednesday with the challenges that Mel faced in the 50s and early 60s.

Album cover http://www.cdandlp.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torme

About William Price King.

Price King Eric Sempe

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 jazz album, ‘Home,’ is 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.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect with William

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

You can explore all of William’s series at this link:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-jazz-and-music-series/

Thank you for joining us today and for those of you who missed the Mel Torme series the first time around we hope you enjoyed the performances.

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