Summer Jazz with William Price King – Mel Tormé – The Finale


William and his music

Welcome to the finale of the life and music of Mel Tormé and his life and music. Not only a prolific composer but an entertainer who won the hearts of millions of music lovers around the world. I will hand over to William Price King to take us through the 80s and 90s.

 220px-Mel_Tormé_(1979)

Mel Tormé enjoyed a wonderful collaboration with George Shearing with popular albums but he also worked with other musicians during the mid to late 80s. These included an album with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass resulting in a hit in the jazz chart of 1986. He also teamed up with his old friend Marty Paich and the Dek-Tette in 1988 and 1989 for Reunion with Marty Paich and In Concert in Tokyo. The album included one of Mel’s favourite classics by Duke Ellington – It Don’t Mean A Thing….

 It wasnt all velvet

In 1988 Mel published his autobiography It Wasn’t All Velvet – in reference to his nickname The Velvet Fog…Here is an extract from a review by Mary Whipple in 2006 for the book.

‘For those who love jazz and the entertainment business, the book is fascinating, giving insights into Harry James, Buddy Rich, Chico Marx, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mercer, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dick Martin (of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In). Tormé’s analyses of his professional failures (such as his disaster at the Copacabana) and of his betrayals by some of his “friends” show how closely some entertainers identify with their career decisions and how agonizing the ups and downs of professional life can be.

Some of the book can be considered self-congratulatory, and other parts reflect Tormé’s desire to set the record straight (and give some payback for past wrongs), but the book gives an articulate and thoughtful presentation of the life of someone who has been considered the greatest male jazz singer of the twentieth century. A fascinating and insightful look at show business, with all its warts’

Mel continued to perform and record albums in the early 90s with albums the live Night at the Concord Pavilion in 1990, a George Shearing collaboration for the studio collection of 1940s songs Mel and George ‘Do’ World War II and a duet album in 1991 with Cleo Laine, Nothing Without You. Here is Mel and Cleo performing After You’ve Gone...

In 1992 Christmas Songs for Telarc Records gave Mel his first pop chart success, and he also recorded a live album The Great American Songbook and Sing Sing Sing. 1993 saw the release of the classic album Blue Moon and in 1994 a studio album A Tribute to Bing Crosby. Mel was now approaching 70 but he maintained his live performances with a very strict health regime to maintain his unique voice. Here is Mel with that unforgettable classic ‘Blue Moon’ written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934.

In July 1996 following the release of The Mel Torme collection 1944-1985 by Rhino Records, Mel recorded his last live album An Evening with Mel Torme for the A&E network. In the August he suffered a stroke and although he recovered he was unable to perform again. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in February 1999 and died following another stroke on 5th June 1999 ages 73.

He left behind an extraordinary legacy in his more than 250 songs, many of which are jazz standards and still performed by artists around the world. But it is his own ability to capture the hearts of his audiences with his immaculate and outstanding delivery of those songs that will be most remembered.

“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.”   Will Friedwald, Jazz Singing

I will leave you with Mel’s performance ‘That’s All’ written by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes and a reminder of some of the highlights of his life put together by TexPaco.


Additional material and images http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_at_the_Concord_Pavilion
YouTube Channel for Mel Torme – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYLwWpHekuN6mOxqmqUUJfw

About William Price King.

williampricekingWilliam 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.

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Summer Jazz with William Price King – Mel Torme Part Four – The 1960s


William and his music

Part four of the series on the life and music of Mel Tormé and it is becoming clear that this talented musician, songwriter and performer, struggles to find his niche in the ever changing music industry. As mentioned in the first part of the series, Mel felt that he had been born just a decade too late to really take full advantage of the Jazz and Big Band Era, which produced the music that he loved to both write and perform. If the 50s had produced a shift in the taste in the fans for popular music, the 60s were going to be even more challenging for an artist such as Mel. It was a time of compromise, recording singles and albums to fit in with the leading label’s demands for popular music, to support his live performances of the music he really loved.

I will hand over to William Price King now to pick up the story.

at the red hillWe move into the 60s with Mel Tormé struggling to find a record label who will allow him to release the music that is his passion… Jazz. He is now with Atlantic Records who very clearly want him to produce pop music, and eventually a compromise was made with another live album, Mel Tormé at the Red Hill in March of 1962. However he bowed to pressure from the management and released the more current number ‘Comin’ Home Baby’ in the September.

The song was written by the jazz lyricist Bob Dorough and bass player Ben Tucker. The song got Mel into the top 40 in both the US and UK and also earned him his first two Grammy nominations for Best Solo Performance, Male and Best Rhythm & Blues Recording. Whilst a terrific achievement for any artist Mel still felt disappointed that he was not being recognised as a jazz performer. To capitalise on this nomination, Atlantic rushed out the LP of the same name but it did not enter the charts.

What was a little bit more heartening for Mel was the comment made by jazz and gospel singer Ethel Waters to say that “Tormé is the only white man who sings with the soul of a black man.”

In 1963 Mel began a collaboration with The Judy Garland Show as musical director working closely on set with Judy and writing songs and musical arrangements combined with the occasional guest appearance. The show itself was in trouble from the beginning and Judy Garland’s unpredictability due to her personal issues resulted in a roller-coaster ride of triumphs and disasters in the few months that the show aired.

Judy Garland ShowThe personal relationship between Mel and Judy was not a harmonious one and he was fired shortly before the series itself was cancelled. Mel wrote a book after Judy Garland’s death “The Other Side of the Rainbow with Judy Garland on the Dawn Patrol”. It was clearly an unhappy time for the aging actress and singer as her star faded and Mel related the behind-the-scenes dramas that he witnessed. Whilst not popular with Judy’s legions of fans and family, after a rewrite of the introduction to the book to mollify their criticisms, Mel paid tribute to the fact that Judy could still pull out all the stops when performing.

right nowFree to return to live performing from late 1964, Mel signed to Columbia Records and as well as some singles he cut the album That’s All.  But, as at Atlantic Records, he was being pressurised to produce more contemporary/pop/rock songs. In 1966 his Album Right Now was released and included some of his recent hits such as ‘Homeward Bound’, and ‘Red Rubber Ball’. Mel made the Easy Listening chart in the summer of 1967 with ‘Lovers Roulette’ but by the end of the year he was off the label.

Red Rubber Ball written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley

Mel had been appearing in films over the last few years, including playing himself in The Patsy and this was followed by A Man Called Adam. He also began to be seen more on the small screen as well as writing episodes and guesting in popular series such as Run for Your Life and The Virginian.

220px-Mel_Tormé_-_A_Day_in_the_Life_of_Bonnie_and_ClydeMel signed with Liberty Records in early 1968 and on the wave of public enthusiasm for the film Bonnie and Clyde that had been released in 1967, he wrote the original title track ‘A Day in the Life of Bonnie and Clyde’. With the exception of this track, the album mostly consists of covers of popular songs of the late 1920s and early 1930s, around the period when the real-life Bonnie and Clyde were committing their bank robberies.

By 1969 Mel was back with Capitol Records and cut two more albums,A Time for Us’ and ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’. ‘A Time for Us’ was the love theme from Romeo & Juliet that had been an instrumental arranged by Henry Mancini and it was to become one of the most romantic ballads of the late 1960s.  Here is the title track from Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.

Mel was now entering the 1970s and he would be out of the music charts for some time although he would still be in the public eye with his work in television and film and with his live performances.

Sources and link to buy Mel Torme music.
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/Comin‘_Home_Baby!

About William Price King

williampricekingWilliam 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.

Summer Jazz with William Price King – Mel Torme – Part Three – The 1950s


William and his music

It is time to pick up the story of Mel Torme’s career in the 50s and early 60s which in many respects was an unsettled and frustrating period commercially. Mel blamed the increasingly popular rock and roll music for the demise of Jazz as music of choice and even referred to it as “three-chord manure”

After leaving Capitol records in 1952, a year passed in limbo until Mel signed up with the Coral label which was a subsidiary of Decca Records. It had been formed in 1949 and had signed and released music from both swing, Jazz and the new dreaded Rock and Roll with the likes of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Mel recorded a number of singles with Coral and then in December 1954 a live performance was recorded at the very popular Crescendo Club in Los Angeles that would mark the beginning of Mel’s many “Live” albums.

The Crescendo Club via Hollywood Pictures.The Crescendo Club via hollywoodphotographs.com

It was time for Mel to move on again and this time back to his roots with a small Jazz label, Bethlehem Records, who had released first albums for up and coming singers such as Nina Simone. Mel released a ballad LP, It’s a Blue World with Bethlehem in 1955 and this marked the first of many recordings in association with pianist/arranger Marty Paich. They formed the Marty Paich Dek-tette with a strategy to try and loosen Frank Sinatra’s hold on the charts at the time by recording little known songs that Frank had not covered as yet… This included the perennial favourite “Lulu’s Back in Town” in 1956 written in 1935 by Al Dubin and Harry Warren.

Along with recording, Mel also began to tour more including overseas visiting Australia in 1955. In 1956, a single from the live album Mel recorded with Coral, the Rodgers & Hart song “Mountain Greenery,” was released as a single in the UK reaching the top ten in time for Mel’s first tour in Europe.

On his return to Los Angeles in late 1956 Mel recorded an new LP – Mel Tormé Sings Fred Astaire with Marty Paich. This should have been a time of consolidation for Mel and a new opportunity to get a foothold in the charts. Unfortunately his record company Bethlehem was having problems and despite recording another Live Album at the Crescendo in 1957 and a further LP, Songs for Any Taste” the label went out of business. Mel returned to England that summer and cut a record for his fans there with Philips Records – Tormé Meets the British. Back in the US he signed a contract with a small label, Tops, and recorded the concept album Prelude to a Kiss in 1958. The album charted the course of a relationship with the songs linked with dialogue. One of the songs on the album is “I’ve Got the World on a String” by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler

This was followed by a new label signing back to his Jazz roots with Verve Records where Ella Fitzgerald was recording. Over the next four years he released eight albums under the label Tormé; Olé Tormé: Mel Tormé Goes South of the Border with Billy May; Back in Town (with the Mel-Tones); Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley; Swingin’ on the Moon; Broadway, Right Now! (with Margaret Whiting); I Dig the Duke! I Dig the Count!; and My Kind of Music. All the albums did well with Jazz fans but were not huge sellers and by the early 60’s Mel decided to move on to the Atlantic Record Label.

A great boost to Mel’s career came along in the form of a revival in his acting career including in the television drama The Comedian and in appearances in a number of films including Girls Town and Walk Like a Dragon in 1960 with the added bonus of the title song being written and performed by Mel.

A final performance from the CD, “Olé Tormé: Mel Tormé Goes South of the Border with Billy May.” Mel Tormé is accompanied by the great Billy May and His Orchestra. Originally released on the Verve label, April 2, 1959. Vaya con Dios was composed in 1953 by Larry Russell, Inez James, and Buddy Pepper. Courtesy of davidhertzberg1

Sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Otis_Regrets
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Blue_World_%28Mel_Torm%C3%A9_album%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9
Buy Mel Torme Musichttp://www.amazon.com/Mel-Torme/e/B000APVACW

About William Price King.

williampricekingWilliam 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.

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.

Smorgasbord Open House – Jazz singer, composer and musician William Price King


smorgasbord open house twoFor the last two years I have had the wonderful experience of collaborating on music posts with my friend jazz singer, musician and composer, William Price King.

We met through Twitter when I was researching guests in the music industry for the first of my Sunday morning shows. I sent William an email and was delighted when he immediately agreed to do the interview.. You can read that original post here. William Price King

I love music and I wanted the blog to reflect this with posts on artists and their work. I needed someone with expertise in the subject to do justice to the subject and approached William in the hopes that he might have the time to write an occasional post. I certainly got more than I bargained for.

Since November 2014 William has been providing us with fascinating insights into the lives and work of some of the greats of the music industry including his two mentors, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme…followed by Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Sir George Shearing, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall and Tony Bennett.. Currently we have a series on the late Natalie Cole which began this week. If you would like a trip down memory lane then you will find the previous series here. Jazz Royalty

Before we head into William’s interview I thought I would give you an brief overview of his life and work to this point and share some of his performances that show the breadth and talent that he brings to the stage.

pricestudioWilliam was born into a family that loved music and both his parents sang in Church. He studied piano from an early age, sang in the Youth Choir and then studied the clarinet at High School. This led to William joining the marching and concert bands and performing in parades at half time at football games. As a family, there were also visits to concerts by the Atlanta Symphony and the opera.

Growing up William was not your typical teenager despite the then rock ‘n’ roll scene and he instead preferred ballads and beautiful singing voices. His first exposure to Nat King Cole was on television and he identified with the emotional expression and phrasing.

William went to the prestigious Morehouse college to major in music and rather than studying the clarinet he took up voice training. This included the classics which suited his voice perfectly and he travelled across the US with his College Glee Club and Quartet. The Glee Club also did many concerts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and William was one of their soloists.

His first Nat King Cole number that he performed in public was The Christmas Song written ironically by Mel Torme, at a gala in honor of Martin Luther King’s parents. William also felt privileged to have heard Martin Luther King speak at one of his rallies and also the great Sidney Poitier at a graduation ceremony. Here is William with The Christmas Song written by Mel Torme.

William auditioned for the School of Music at Yale University and was given a full scholarship as a classical singer. This opened up wonderful opportunities to travel with the Yale Symphony as a soloist and this included a tour of Europe. Following his graduation, William moved to New York with the attention of following a career in opera but found that he was too young and that it was a challenge to find gigs in the classical field.

This resulted in a change in direction and performance style over the next two years and it was listening to a recording of Mel Torme’s that proved to be a turning point. William immediately felt an affinity with both Mel’s style and delivery and with this revelation came new opportunities including the formation of Au Naturel with two other singers in Manhattan. With a repertoire of jazz and pop the trio auditioned for record companies and agents which led to bookings all over New York including at the famous Rainbow Room.

Here is another performance from William. This time a Mel Torme classic – Love Me Or Leave Me.


William spent his spare time going to performances of the top artists such as Lena Horne, Josephine Baker and Sarah Vaughn and having absorbed elements of their individual talents, he and the trio embarked on a tour of Canada and Europe. This was to be a fateful tour as William met and fell in love with his wife Jeanne when in France and has lived and performed there successfully since then.

I will now hand over to William to share the questions he has chosen about his place of birth, favourite leisure pastime, the most important event to affect our lives in the last 100 years and a delicious recipe for Chicken Crumble.

Welcome William and perhaps you can tell us more about where you born and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact.

I was born in Atlanta, Ga., the home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King (Nobel Peace Prize, 1964); the Atlanta Braves (baseball, three world series championships); the Atlanta Falcons (football, NFC champions); CNN (founded in 1980); Coca-Cola (since 1944); the Centennial Olympic Park (1996 Summer Olympics); and the world’s busiest airport, “Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.” Atlanta is called the “gateway” to the South, a “world city” ranking 36th among world cities and 8th in the USA. Atlanta played an important role in both the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The Atlanta History Center chronicles the city’s past, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is dedicated to King’s life and times.

From an historical point of view, the “Battle of Atlanta” was fought on July 22, 1864. Union forces, commanded by General William T. Sherman, defeated the Confederate forces who were defending the city. This was a major turning point in the Civil War. Atlanta was totally destroyed, which destroyed the southern morale and sent them the last big blow. Sherman’s victory is credited for aiding the re-election of Abraham Lincoln, preserving the Union, and the abolishment of slavery. The battle was later dramatized and brought to popular attention through “Gone with the Wind.”

Atlanta is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word, from world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions to a hip night life and sporting events galore.

Which is your favourite leisure pastime?

Price - Mountain climbing
Without a doubt my favorite pastime is hiking in the mountains. This is an exhilarating and rewarding experience which allows me to commune with nature as well as testing my limits. There is nothing more gratifying than winding my way up the side of a mountain enjoying the beauty along the way, not to mention the satisfaction when I reach the summit. I get goose bumps when contemplating its majesty.

The changing colors from the clouds and snowy peaks are mesmerizing, as are the flora and fauna. Mountain climbing gives me inspiration and joy because it is more than a pastime or a sport, it’s a passion. It’s stress-free, and I always take the time to stop and contemplate the beauty around me. It is good for my heart, lungs, legs, ankles, feet, blood pressure, and peace of mind. Moreover, it helps me to connect with myself and with nature in a way that brings serenity and a sense of well-being.

What do you believe is the most important event to have affected our lives in the last 100 years?

That’s a pretty tough one because there are so many events that have happened on the world stage over the last 100 years which have had direct or indirect consequences on our lives. To name a few, we have survived major wars; stock markets have crashed and the economy has fallen flat on its face; we saw the fall of the Berlin wall; apartheid came to an end; and the Twin Towers came tumbling down. Now we’re engulfed in a war on terrorism which will, undoubtedly, have ramifications for years to come. There is an on-going refugee crisis, a crisis that is putting the European Union in grave danger of collapse.

For me, living in Europe, this crisis, caused by armed conflict and global warming, is probably the most important event of the last 100 years because it affects us now and there seems to be no end to it. The influx of refugees and the recent terror attacks in Paris have placed the E.U. system of passport-free travel under tremendous strain and if it were to collapse then this could be the beginning of the end of the European Union, which could have dire consequences. Of course, the rights of these voiceless people who have experienced hunger and indignity, and who have seen death with their own eyes, must be defended, too. We are all humans.

Perhaps the answer, if there is one, can be found in the Middle East because it will be impossible for Europe to provide sanctuary to everyone in need. In the meantime, our leaders must come up with long term solutions on how to bring about genuine peace through education and development and take serious action on climate change. Time is running out!

If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?
I learned how to cook when I was a student living in the dormitory on campus in New Haven, CT. I was lucky in that there were a lot of good cooks among students my age (I was 21 then). I watched how they prepared their meals, took notes, and tried to do the same thing more or less. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn’t, but It helped me to be patient in the kitchen and to learn the hard way.

When I finished school and went to New York I had a few culinary skills under my belt to keep me alive so I didn’t have to be a regular at McDonald’s. When I was dating my future wife in France, I was amazed at her cooking skills. Being “French,” believe me, she knew how to cook! Once married and with a family to raise, my wife did all of the cooking as she wanted to make sure our kids ate the right things, had enough vegetables, proteins, etc. I would do desserts, mostly American brownies, carrot cakes, pumpkin pies, and the like.

The kids finally grew up and left home, by then my wife had had more than enough of being in the kitchen cooking. So, I took over the reins of preparing meals and got promoted from desserts to full menus. I must say that I do enjoy cooking on a daily basis. Cooking a meal is one of the most personal and intimate things you can do for someone. You’re literally providing plated nourishment made with your own hands and creativity. I have found that cooking can be really relaxing, fun, and I love the challenge of preparing good food. Since I consider cooking to be an art, I always try to create something new – another way to express myself. I also love to explore new tastes and get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I make a dish that rivals one in a good restaurant.

In our family and among our friends, my Chicken Crumble is well received and it’s one of my favorite dishes. It’s simple and filling.  (Also it looks like it would be very welcome after a day in the mountains. SC).

Nyika,Gene,MarionI must admit that I rarely stick to a recipe 100%, I always improvise. That probably comes from my being a jazz singer. Why not?

Chicken Crumble Recipe

6 chicken breasts
3 apples
2 medium size onions (you can always substitute with shallots)
2 garlic cloves
2 tea spoons of curry (or more depending upon how much you like curry, I always put more)
½ cup of raisins
3 table spoons of fresh cream
2 table spoons of olive oil

Crumble:
150 grams of oatmeal
120 grams of soft butter
90 grams of parmesan cheese

Method.

Peel and mince the onions. Cut the chicken breasts and pealed apples into cubes. Preheat the oven at 180°C.

Heat the olive oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until they soften or are translucent. Add the cubes of chicken breasts and apples. Salt and pepper and let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the curry, cream, and raisins and stir gently. Rectify the seasoning, you can always add more curry, salt, and pepper if you like. Pour into an oven dish. Prepare the “crumble” by mixing the soft butter with the oatmeal flakes and the parmesan. Spread the mixture evenly over the meat and place it into the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes. Bon appétit!

That sounds delcious and a recipe I shall definitely be trying out.  My thanks to William for joining us today in a different capacity and I will leave you with another performance from one of his live gigs.. Lullaby of Birdland

Thanks for dropping by and please leave a note and feel free to share William’s Interview. We hope you will join us next Wednesday for the second part of the Natalie Cole Story.

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


We now move into the final part of the Sir George Shearing story and as well as some more of his legendary performances and collaborations it is also time to share the honours and tributes that he received from governments, fellow musicians and his fans.

Over to William Price King…

In May 1975, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Westminster College in Salt Lake City and the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans in 1978. Other honorary doctorates in music followed in 1994 from Hamilton College in upstate New York and DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana in 2002.

Here is an early version of Conception by the George Shearing Quintet.

His origins in the UK were not forgotten and in 1993 he was presented with the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement. This was followed in 1996 by one of the top honours that can be bestowed on a British citizen when he was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. In the November of that year he was invested by her majesty at Buckingham Palace with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to music and Anglo-US relations.

Here is Mel Torme and George Shearing with A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. Written in 1939 with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin. Recorded in 1989.

In 1999, his 80th birthday was celebrated in England where he played to a sold-out house at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. Also appearing with him were the BBC Big Band, the strings of the London Symphony, Dame Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. BBC Radio 2 presented a 2 1/2-hour “Salute to Shearing” in honor of his birthday.

His US fans and musical collaborators were not to be outdone and the next year there was another sold-out birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall featuring the George Shearing Quintet with Nancy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Dr. Billy Taylor, the John Pizzarelli Trio, and Tito Puente.

A reminder of the George Shearing Latin magic with Woodwinds and Brazilian Rhythm
Album:“George Shearing / Shearing Bossa NovaOne Note Samba

At age 85, George released his memoirs, Lullaby of Birdland, which was accompanied by a double-album “musical autobiography”, Lullabies of Birdland. This was immediately followed by two albums Hopeless Romantics with Michael Feinstein and the collectors set Mel Tormé & George Shearing The Concord Years.

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Another reminder of a great collaboration Nancy Wilson and the George Shearing Orchestra When Sunny Gets Blue…words & music by Jack Segal & Marvin Fisher, 1946.

Unfortunately, George suffered a fall and had to retire from regular performing. Although an American Citizen he and his wife returned to Britain most summers to their home in the Cotswolds and was able to indulge in one of his favourite pastimes, watching cricket.

In 2006 he received news that both delighted and surprised him. In a letter from the Prime Minister’s office he was notified that his name had been submitted to The Queen with a recommendation that Her Majesty confer George with a Knighthood.

When the letter was read to him, George simply said, “I don’t know why I’m getting this honor…..I’ve just been doing what I love to do.” And, when asked by the press how he felt about receiving the highest honor the Queen can give, he replied, “My mind keeps flashing back on my beginnings as pianist playing in a pub for the equivalent of $5.00 a week. What a journey it has been from that pub to Buckingham Palace. Receiving such an honor as a Knighthood might also show young people what can be achieved in life if one learns his craft and follows his dreams.”

Considering his own background as a blind child, the youngest of nine children whose father once delivered coal to Buckingham Palace; it was the culmination of a wonderful, successful and hard working life in music.

In June 13, 2007 George was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace. He became Sir George Shearing “for his contribution to music”,

Here is another one of his spectacular collaborations with Peggy Lee singing Do I Love You written by Cole Porter.

Three presidents have invited Mr. Shearing to play at the White House. Ford, Carter and Reagan. He performed at the Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He is a member of the Friars Club and the Lotos Club in New York and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.

And, the honours keep coming! Back in New York, on October 21, 2007, the Town Hall Foundation presented Sir George with its Annual Friend of the Arts Award “in recognition and appreciation of his abiding interest in the development, enrichment and support of the arts”. With this award also came a medal plaque, bearing Sir George’s name, being placed on the back of one the seats in the legendary Town Hall.

Sir George and his wife Ellie continued to travel between the UK and New York and it was here on February 14, 2011 at age 91, that he died of congestive heart failure with his family by his side.

Perhaps this is an appropriate track to end on.. Fly Me To The Moon the George Shearing Quintet with the legendary Nat King Cole. The song was written in 1954 by Bart Howard.

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

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

You can find all of William’s posts in the following Directory including the previous posts on Sir George Shearing.

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

Over the summer weeks I will be sharing the original series of the Nat King Cole and Mel Torme stories.. William Price King is busy with composing and will be back with a new series on the life of Quincy Jones in September.

Thank you for stopping by and of course do feel free to share and comment..

 

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 in Concert – A taste of Jazz with a quartet of exceptional musicians


This week we are treated to a Jazz medley from William Price King accompanied by Eric Sempe – Guitars, Nicolas Luchi – Bass and Jean-Luc Veran on drums.  This coming Saturday it is part four of the Nina Simone story and we both hope you will pop in and join us.

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.

cropped

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

Last week’s post of the Nina Simone Story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-nina-simone-part-three-the-civil-rights-movement/

Last week’s William Price King in concert

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/william-price-king-in-concert-a-medley-of-original-compostions-and-jazz-standards/

All previous performances

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.

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

Please feel free to share the music.