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

 

 

William Price King and Man and his Music meets Sir George Shearing


William Price King picks up the story of the powerhouse of jazz that was Sir George Shearing. Blind from birth, he never let his lack of sight deter him from achieving his ambitions in music, and as we move into the war years and the rest of the 40s it is clear that George is definitely on the way up in the music world.

Into the 40s……

Still only 20 at the outbreak of the Second World War, George began to gain a huge amount of experience by performing with some of the exiled musicians from Europe and this included the incredible Stephane Grappelli. Stephane, originally Italian but a naturalised French citizen, learned to play classical violin, but was introduced to Jazz in his early teens. Jazz violinists were rare at that time and over the next 20 years Stephane along with his various bands developed a style that the young George Shearing naturally gravitated towards.

Through the war years he also played with the Vic Lewis and Carlo Krahmer Band on several recordings for the Days Rhythm Style and HMV and Harry Parry and his Radio Rhythm Club Sextet. Eventually in 1944 he released a recording for Decca with his own sextet with that included Kenny Baker, Harry Hayes, Aubrey Frank, Tommy Bromley, and Carlo Krahmer.

Here is George Shearing performing More Than You Know in 1942 – The music was written by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu. The song was published in 1929

The BBC was the driving force behind the music industry and apart from the bands that toured the country and the cinema was the only national source of news and entertainment. The BBC had been combined into one channel which was the Home Service and it only offered informational programmes, news and music. This would later be expanded into the Forces service that was broadcast to the armed forces but it had a much larger entertainment content that included dramas, quiz programmes, comedies as well as a large musical component. It was accessible by the general public and it became increasingly more popular as the years of austerity took hold. The demand for music was therefore very high and for George Shearing this meant that he was never out of work.

His fan base grew and he became a star both at home with British listeners but also with the soldiers and sailors listening to the Forces radio. He won seven consecutive Melody Maker Polls which were the UK Grammys. In 1945 he was ranked 5 in the Best Soloist category, ironically ahead of Stephane Grappelli at No. 8! He did however come in behind Stephane and his Quintette at No. 7 when he was placed at No.11 with his sextet in the Small Combo category. He was however No. 1 that year for Piano.

By 1946 although still very popular in Britain, George was aware that he was becoming limited in his audience and his friend Jazz pianist, composer and journalist Leonard Feather, now established in the US invited George to join him for a visit in 1946. Whilst there for three months he recorded an album for the Savoy label, and delighted with the music scene and the opportunities that were open to him in the US he moved across permanently in 1947.

He was the first of the post-war British Jazz musicians to arrive in the US and build a successful career. George was now heavily into bebop. The birth of bebop in the 1940’s is often considered to mark the beginning of modern jazz. This style grew directly out of the small swing groups, but placed a much higher emphasis on technique and on more complex harmonies rather than on singable melodies. Alto saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker was the father of this movement, and trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie was his primary accomplice. Dizzy also led a big band, and helped introduce Afro-Cuban music, including rhythms such as the mambo through his work with Cuban percussionists. But it was the quintet and other small group recordings featuring Dizzy and ‘Bird’ that formed the foundation of bebop and most modern jazz.

Hickory HouseGeorge’s reputation grew as he gained attention as the intermission pianist at the iconic jazz venue at the Hickory House on 52nd street and as Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist on her pianist’s night off. Eventually he landed a regular quartet engagement with clarinetist Buddy De Franco. Just before recording an album Buddy had to drop out for contractual reasons and George’s old friend Leonard Feather suggested that it was time for George to form his own group.

One of the musicians that he collaborated with was the pianist Marian McPartland and here they are with All the Things You Are. The original song was written in 1939 for the musical Very Warm for May by Jerome Kern.

In 1949 George formed the first and most famous of his quintets which included Marjorie ‘Marjie’ Hyams in the unusual inclusion of a female in the line-up. Marjie was a jazz vibraphonist, piano and arranger. For those of you unfamiliar with a vibraphone, it is similar to a xylophone. Each bar is paired with a resonator tube with a motor-driven butterfly valve mounted on a common shaft which produces a vibrato effect while spinning. It was commonly used in jazz and also in wind instrument ensembles. Marjie had played with Woody Herman, Mary Lou Williams and Charlie Ventura and was a great addition to the sextet. The group also included Chuck Wayne on guitar, John Levy on bass, and Denzil Best on drums.

From that point on George Shearing’s success was guaranteed. With his unique quintet and later sextet ‘Shearing Sound’ he had found the formula that would bring him worldwide fans and huge record sales. His 1949 ‘September in the Rain’ for MGM sold 900,000 copies and his reputation in the US was firmly established when he was booked into Birdland the legendary jazz venue in New York.

September in the Rain written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin in 1937 from the film Melody for Two by the George Shearing Quintet.

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 http://www.jazzquotations.com/2010/05/brief-history-of-bebop.html

Part one of the George Shearing Story.

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

 William Price King

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 from his website.

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

William Price King in concert
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-in-concert/

Links to the stories on all Jazz Royalty.. Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald and Roberta Flack and Nina Simone

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

I hope you have enjoyed today’s musical interlude and we welcome your feedback and sharing.. thank you.

 

 

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


We begin a new series today with William Price King talking about one of the most important British Jazz musicians of the 20th century.

“Can anybody be given a great degree of creativity? No. They can be given the equipment to develop it – if they have it in them in the first place.”  George Shearing.

Sir George Shearing is remembered as an outstanding jazz pianist, arranger and composer who wrote over 300 original compositions and arranged and performed hundreds of the classic jazz standards of the century. This included Lullaby of Birdland commissioned in 1952 as the theme music for a radio show based on the famous Birdland club in New York. Here is a recording of that song with Peggy Lee.

His career was all the more remarkable and inspiring for the fact that George was born blind. This never fazed this outstanding musician however and he would develop an international career and a fan base of the finest artists of the era and millions of music lovers around the world.

He began life in 1919 in the Battersea area of London and was the youngest of nine children. His father was a coalman and his mother worked at night cleaning trains. However it was not long before the youngest member of their family made his decision about which direction in life he would follow and by age three he began playing the family piano. By listening to the old crystal set wireless, George would pick up tunes by listening to them and going over to the piano and playing them. He did have some lessons from a local teacher but then went on to the Linden Lodge School for blind children in Wandsworth for four years.

He credits Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson as his influences in his teen years and he was considered an accomplished musician in his own right to be offered a university musical scholarship but he turned it down.

Fats Waller playing I’m Going to Sit Down and Write Myself a Letter from 1935 showing the style that would have spoken directly to George’s growing fascination with jazz.

The times were hard in the mid 30’s in London and George opted to make a living playing piano in the local pubs in Battersea. At first he played the popular songs of the day but then began to perform jazz. As a lucky break he came to the attention of Claude Bampton who had recently formed an all-blind orchestra and George joined as second pianist.

The orchestra was funded by the National Institute for Blind People in 1936 and was made up of 20 musicians of which 18 were sight impaired. Claude Bampton who was sighted used an oversized baton that made sounds to direct the musicians and one of the first performances was broadcast by the BBC in 1937. The orchestra toured all over the UK until well into the 1940s before being disbanded. Six grand pianos were part of the finale and included the young George Shearing who was only 17 when he joined these accomplished musicians.

George was lucky enough to perform with another orchestra member, drummer Carlo Krahmer born in Shoreditch in London in 1914 as Max Geserick. Carlo encouraged George’s Jazz ambitions and they would spend their spare time at Carlo’s house where he would play piano for hours introducing George to the music of the Jazz greats of the day. To absorb this music even further George would frequent the London after-hours club scene and when opportunity presented itself play alongside the visiting American musicians and also managed to see one of his heroes Fats Waller perform first hand.

By the age of 18 George was playing professionally with the Ambrose dance band and also as a solo performer. His first recordings were in 1937 under the guidance of Leonard Feather a jazz pianist, composer and producer. George played on Leonard’s Classic recordings until 1945.

Here is Life with Feather written by Leonard and later recorded by the George Shearing Quintet on their 1949 album Discovery

Next week George becomes an established star in Britain and in the mid-40s accepts Leonard Feather’s invitation to join him in America.

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

William Price King.

wpk

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 from his website.

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

William Price King in concert
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-in-concert/

Links to the stories on all Jazz Royalty.. Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald and Roberta Flack and Nina Simone

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

 

 

A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Mel Tormé – Part Five – The 70s and 80s


Welcome to the Saturday Jazz session with singer and composer William Price King and his series on the incomparable Mel Torme.  Many of us grew up listening to him perform and I seem to remember a couple of romances being helped along by his smooth style…. Anyway enough reminiscing – on with the show in the capable hands and voice of William Price King…

mel

We catch up with Mel Tormé in the early 70s and he had not released an album since 1969. He continued to work in television and film however and by 1971 he was host and co-producer for an ABC documentary series ‘It Was a Very Good Year,. The major events of all the years from 1919 to 1964 were presented each week and Mel would sing musical hits and interview personalities of the featured dates. He would appear in acting and singing roles on TV during those leaner years as well as continue to perform live at every opportunity.

220px-Tormlive

Mel would not release any studio recordings until 1977 but he did privately record a new live album Mel Tormé live at the Maisonette in 1975, recorded at the Maisonette room in the St. Regis Hotel in New York, which he sold to Atlantic Records.. Despite not making money on the album it did produce a nomination in 1976 for the Grammy Award for Best Accompanying Vocalist for the 15 minute Gershwin medley. One of the songs that he performed live on the album was the 1972 Stevie Wonder Motown hit ‘Superstition’

After a seven year gap, in 1976, Mel signed a new record contract with Gryphon Records and recorded the LP Tormé! A New Album in London in June 1977. One of the tracks on the album was New York State of Mind by Billy Joel

Whilst this album was being produced Mel was working in collaboration with long-time friend, drummer and band leader Buddy Rich and their January 1978 sessions, Together Again: For the First Time was released before his Gryphon label album.

220px-BuddyRichMelTorme_TogetherAgainForTheFirstTime_Century

However both albums would provide Mel with further Grammy nominations – for his album with Buddy he was nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category in 1978 for the fourth time and a fifth nomination followed in 1979 in the same category for his work on Tormé! A New Album.

Jazz vocals were making a great comeback in the 70s and Mel’s consistent loyalty to live performing in the 60s stood him in good stead now. He had developed a reputation as a talented Jazz singer and he was in big demand to perform around the world with often over 200 performances a year. He headlined at Jazz festivals, concert halls and with symphony orchestras and was booked to appear annually in major cities around the globe. His awards were not limited to the US or the Grammys as he was honoured in Europe as well.

R-2925374-1313671335.jpeg

His success continued into the early 80s with more traditional pop music making a return to the charts. There was a sixth Grammy nomination, again for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, for his LP, Mel Tormé and Friends Recorded Live at Marty’s New York City, which was released on Finesse Records in 1981 and reached number 44 in the Billboard jazz chart. One of the songs on that album was The Best is Yet to Come by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh which was very apt considering how well Mel’s career was doing as he entered the new decade.

The 80s continued on track for Mel and his next collaboration with jazz pianist George Shearing in 1982 at the Peacock Court of the Hotel Mark Hopkins in San Francisco would result in the album An Evening with George Shearing & Mel Tormé released by Concord Records. It reached number 34 in the jazz chart and cemented their association for the rest of the 80s. Mel was nominated for his seventh Grammy again in the Best Jazz Vocal performance and this time he won in February of 1983. Here is a live performance from the album.. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

The pair teamed up for the album Top Drawer, winning Mel his second Grammy win and their album An Evening at Charlie’s released in 1984 provided his ninth nomination with a studio album An Elegant Evening producing the tenth for 1986.

At last Mel Tormé was receiving the recognition he deserved and next time we will explore the rest of the 80s and the 90s with this amazing singer and performer.

Additional sources
http://www.mtv.com/artists/mel-torme-00/biography/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9
http://www.amazon.com/Mel-Torm%C3%A9/e/B001HMPC1C
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Together_Again:_For_the_First_Time
http://www.discogs.com/Mel-Torm%C3%A9-Mel-Torm%C3%A9-And-Friends/release/2925374
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torm%C3%A9:_A_New_Album

wpk

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

William Price King meets Mel Tormé
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme/ Part One.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-two-1940s/ Part Two
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-three-the-50s/ Part Three
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-four-the-1960s/ Part Four
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-iconic-jazz-my-funny-valentine/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/william-price-king-iconic-songs-of-the-last-century-stardust/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-sings-jazz-prelude-to-a-kiss/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-sings-moonlight-in-vermont/

THE DIRECTORY FOR NAT KING COLE AND MEL TORME
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/