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Monday, 20 November 2017

June Christy born 20 November 1925

June Christy (born Shirley Luster; November 20, 1925 – June 21, 1990) was an American singer, known for her work in the cool jazz genre and for her silky smooth vocals. Her success as a singer began with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. She pursued a solo career from 1954 and is best known for her debut album Something Cool. After her death, she was hailed as "one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time." 

Shirley Luster was born in Springfield, Illinois. She moved with her parents Steve and Marie (née Crain) Luster to Decatur, Illinois, when she was three years old. She began to sing with the Decatur-based Bill Oetzel Orchestra at thirteen. While attending Decatur High School she appeared with various bands. After high school she moved to Chicago, changed her name to Sharon Leslie, and sang with a group led by Boyd Raeburn. Later she joined Benny Strong's band. In 1944, Strong's band moved to New York City at the same time Christy was quarantined in Chicago with scarlet fever. 

In 1945, after hearing that Anita O'Day had left Stan Kenton's Orchestra, she auditioned and was chosen for the role as a vocalist. During this time, she changed her name once again, becoming June Christy.

Her voice produced successful hits such as "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy," the million-selling "Tampico" in 1945, and "How High the Moon". "Tampico" was Kenton's biggest-selling record. When the Kenton Band temporarily disbanded in 1948, she sang in nightclubs for a short time, and reunited with the band two years later. Christy appeared as guest vocalist on some of Kenton's albums. 

From 1947, she started to work on her own records, primarily with arranger and bandleader Pete Rugolo. In 1954, she released a 10" LP entitled Something Cool, recorded with Rugolo and his orchestra, a gathering of notable Los Angeles jazz musicians that included her husband, multi-instrumentalist Bob Cooper and alto saxophonist Bud Shank. Something Cool was re-released as a 12" LP in 1955 with additional selections, and then entirely rerecorded in stereo in 1960 with different personnel. Christy would later say that the album was "the only thing I've recorded that I'm not unhappy with." Something Cool was also important in launching the vocal cool movement of the 1950s, and it hit the Top 20 Charts, as did her third album, The Misty Miss Christy. 

In the 1950s and 1960s, Christy appeared on a number of television programs. She also appeared on the first sponsored jazz concert on television, The Timex All-Star Jazz Show I (December 30, 1957), which also featured Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa. 

Christy embarked on dozens of concert tours, playing in Europe, South Africa, Australia and Japan. She toured to such an extent that eventually it began taking a toll on her marriage. She began to pull back from touring in the early 1960s.

Christy semi-retired from the music business in 1969, in part due to her battle with alcoholism. In 1972, she sang at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York City, where she was reunited with the Kenton Orchestra. She also performed at a handful of jazz festivals during the late 1970s and 1980s, playing with a band of all-star West Coast jazz musicians led by Shorty Rogers, as well as taking part in a number of world tours.

Christy returned to the recording studio in 1977 to record her final solo LP, Impromptu. She recorded an interview in 1987 for a Paul Cacia produced album called "The Alumni Tribute to Stan Kenton" on the Happy Hour label. A number of other Kenton alumni (Shorty Rogers, Lee Konitz, Jack Sheldon, among them) interspersed their tunes with reminiscences of the man and the years on the road.

Christy toured one final time in 1988, again with Shorty Rogers. Her final performance was sharing the stage with Chet Baker. 

Christy died at her home in Sherman Oaks, California of kidney failure on June 21, 1990, at the age of 64. Her remains were cremated and scattered off the coast of Marina Del Rey.  

Christy was married to Bob Cooper. In 1954, she gave birth to a daughter, Shay Christy Cooper (September 1, 1954–February 21, 2014). She had one brother Jack A. Luster (1920-2013).

(Info compiled and edited from Wikipedia)

Here's a clip of June from 1950

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Jamie Coe born 19 November 1935

Jamie Coe (born George Colovas, 19 November 1935, Dearborn, Michigan - 27 January 2007, near Garden City, Michigan) was a musician and entertainer who fronted the Gigolos, the most popular rock-oriented band in Detroit.  
A top draw in rock 'n' roll circles during the Elvis era, Jamie Coe drew the interest of several record companies over the years without ever quite achieving the big breakthrough his talents merited. Born to Greek parents in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Coe got his first break when Marilyn Bond*, a young music promoter from Garden City, spotted him performing at a teen dance in Dearborn in late 1958. She took him into a local studio and cut some demos and also got him a spot on a local TV show in Flint, Michigan. 

He was then going by the name of George Cole and the Marquis. When "A Cavalcade of Stars", a package tour featuring Bobby Darin and other chart acts came through Detroit in early 1959, Bond inveigled local boy Cole an opening spot. Suitably impressed, Darin invited Cole and his young manager to his hotel after the show and offered him a recording contract, changing his name to the snappier sounding Jamie Coe during the course of the discussions.

Darin was dabbling in record production as a hedge against future career failure (he had already recorded "Mack the Knife", but it had not yet been released at that time). Together with a New York song publisher, Joe Csida of Trinity Music, Darin decided to launch his own label, Addison Records, with Coe as its principal artist. The Bobby Darin composition "Summertime Symphony" (which sounds almost as much like "Sweet Little Sixteen" as "Surfin' USA") was the first of Coe's two 45s for the new label. The second was "Schoolday Blues" (Addison 15003), released in October 1959. Both of Jamie's Addison singles were issued in the UK on Parlophone. 

By late 1959. Darin's career was red-hot with "Mack the Knife", and he told Coe regretfully that he was too busy to give him enough attention as a manager. Addison Records turned out to be a short-lived affair, with only six releases. 
Marilyn Bond resumed her activities as Coe's manager and got him signed to ABC-Paramount. Four ABC singles were released in 1960-61, the last one of which, "How Low Is Low"/"Little Dear, Little Darling" got a British release on HMV POP 991. Jamie's next stop was at Bigtop Records in New York City, where his records were produced by Del Shannon's manager, Harry Balk. In 1963, Coe's revival of Sanford Clark's 1956 hit "The Fool", stalled just outside the US Hot 100 in the Bubbling Under section. It was his last UK release, on London HLX 9713.  

A fixture on Detroit's budding rock scene in the early 1960s, Jamie Coe & the Gigolos were a sharp-dressed band with a tightly choreographed show. Performing at area teen clubs and nightspots such as Dearborn's Club Gay Haven, Coe and his band played their own regional hits like "The Fool" and "Black & Blue" among slick cover versions of rock 'n' roll standards. 

There were further releases on the Detroit label Enterprise in 1964-65, but by then the Beatles had come along and spoiled it for Jamie and a lot of his contemporaries. But no matter, they still loved him in Detroit.

Coe owned two clubs, Jamie's (in Garden City, Michigan) and Jammers (in Livonia, MI) and performed each Wednesday night at the latter, with his group the Gigolos. Jamie died Saturday morning in Livonia after he had a heart attack while driving home from his nightclub, Jamie's, in Garden City, January 27, 2007. He had performed earlier during the night but wasn't feeling well, family members said.
The CD "A Long Time Ago" (Legends of Music, 29 tracks) is an almost complete overview of Jamie's recorded output. 

* Marilyn Bond is the co-author of the book "The Birth of the Detroit Sound, 1940-1964" (Arcadia Publishing, Chicago, 2002). (Info compiled mainly from Black Cat Rockabilly)

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Johnny Mercer born 18 November 1909

John Herndon Mercer (November 18, 1909 – June 25, 1976) was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He was also a record label executive, who co-founded Capitol Records with music industry businessman Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E. Wallichs.

He was born John Herndon Mercer on November 18, 1909 into an old Southern family in Savannah, Georgia. His father was a wealthy attorney with a flourishing real estate business, and young John was sent to a fashionable prep school, the Woodbury Forrest School in Virginia. However, when he was 17, his father's business collapsed, and his father found himself a million dollars in debt. Rather than declare bankruptcy, his father dedicated the rest of his life to paying off that debt, and suddenly young John Mercer, no longer able to go on to college, was on his way to New York City, hoping to make good as an actor.
 Acting, however, was not to be Mercer's destiny. He got a few bit parts, and took other jobs to survive, including a stint as a Wall Street runner, but his first small break came in 1930 when a song for which he had written the lyric was sung on Broadway in The Garrick Gaieties of 1930. In 1932, he won a singing contest and landed a job as singer with the Paul Whiteman Band. Whiteman introduced him to Hoagy Carmichael, and soon Mercer and Carmichael had a hit with "Lazybones" (1933). Composers quickly discovered his talent, and his career as a lyricist took off.
 In 1933, he moved to Hollywood, where he began writing songs for the movies. Meanwhile, his singing career continued to grow. He sang duets with people like Jack Teagarden and Bing Crosby. In 1938 and 1939, he was a singer with the Benny Goodman Band, and by the early 1940s he was popular enough to have his own radio show, Johnny Mercer's Music Shop.
 In 1942, together with fellow songwriter (and film producer) Buddy De Sylva and businessman Glen Wallichs, he founded Capitol Records and became Capitol's first President and chief talent scout. Soon, he had signed up such performers as Stan Kenton, Nat "King" Cole, Jo Stafford, and Margaret Whiting, and by 1946 Capitol was responsible for one sixth of all records sold in the U.S.

 In 1946, he teamed up with Harold Arlen to write the Broadway musical St. Louis Woman. The show was not a success, but it included such classic songs as "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home", "I Wonder What Became Of Me", "I Had Myself A True Love", "Come Rain Or Come Shine".

Arlen and Mercer
In that same year, he won his first Academy Award, for "On The Atchison, Topeka, And Santa Fe"(music by Harry Warren), sung by Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls.
 His second Oscar came for "In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening" (music by Hoagy Carmichael), which Bing Crosby and
Jane Wyman sang in the 1951 film Here Comes the Groom. Also in 1951, he wrote the score, both words and music, for the successful Broadway musical Top Banana.
 In 1954, he wrote the lyrics to Gene De Paul's music for the classic Hollywood musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1956, he and De Paul teamed up again to turn out the score for the hit Broadway musical Li'l Abner, which included "Jubilation T. Cornpone".
 His father had died in 1940, having succeeded in paying off $700,000 of the million he owed. In 1955, Mercer sold his share in Capitol records and, finally able to do so, surprised his father's creditors by using $300,000 of the proceeds to pay off the remainder of the debt.
 In 1961, he wrote "Moon River" (music by Henry Mancini) for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's, winning his third Academy Award. And the next year, he became the first songwriter to win a fourth Oscar, this time for the title song to the 1962 film Days of Wine and Roses (music again by Mancini).
 He was the founding president of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, where his outstanding business skills were tremendously valuable in getting the organization off to a sound start. He also initiated planning, together with Oscar Brand for a Songwriters Hall of Fame archive and museum.
 Mercer wrote hit songs in four different decades, from the 1930s through the 1960s. His lyrics combine a keen appreciation of American colloquialisms with a profoundly poetic sensibility. At their best, they have a richness and emotional complexity that is simply amazing.
 While working on a new musical in London with Andre Previn, Mercer learned that the headaches he had been having were due to a brain tumour. Planning ahead, he arranged for his friend Sammy Cahn to take over as president of the National Academy of Popular Music (the parent organization of the Songwriters Hall of Fame).

After receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, Mercer underwent surgery, from which he never fully recovered.

He died June 25, 1976, and is buried in the family plot in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. (Info mainly compiled from Songwriters Hall of Fame) 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Eddie Condon born 16 November 1905

Albert Edwin Condon (November 16, 1905 – August 4, 1973) was an American jazz banjoist, guitarist, and bandleader. A leading figure in Chicago jazz, he also played piano and sang.
Condon was born in Goodland, Indiana, the son of John and Margaret (née McGraw) Condon. He grew up in Momence, Illinois, and Chicago Heights, Illinois, where he attended St. Agnes and Bloom High School. After playing ukulele, he switched to banjo and was a professional musician by 1921. When he was 15 years old, he received his first union card in Waterloo, Iowa.
He was based in Chicago for most of the 1920s, and played with such jazz notables as Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, and Frank Teschemacher. He and Red McKenzie formed the Chicago Rhythm Kings in 1925.
In 1928, Condon moved to New York City. He frequently arranged jazz sessions for various record labels, sometimes playing with the artists he brought to the recording studios, including Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. He organised racially integrated recording sessions—when these were still rare—with Waller, Armstrong and Henry 'Red' Allen. He played with the band of Red Nichols for a time. Later, from 1938 he had a long association with Milt Gabler's Commodore Records.
A handful of records were issued under his own name: a July 28, 1928 two-song session was recorded for OKeh, but only issued in England. On October 30, 1928, an OKeh was issued as "Eddie Condon and his Footwarmers", featuring Jack Teagarden. A further session on February 8, 1929 yielded a record issued under the name "Eddie Hot Shots" and issued on Victor's hot dance series. In 1933, a further two sessions were recorded for Brunswick consisting of 6 recordings, only 2 of which were released in the US. From 1938 on, Condon recorded for Commodore and one session for Decca.
From the late 1930s on he was a regular at the Manhattan jazz club Nick's. The sophisticated variation on Dixieland music which Condon and his colleagues created there came to be nicknamed "Nicksieland." By this time, his regular circle of musical associates included Wild Bill Davison, Bobby Hackett, George Brunies, Edmond Hall, and Pee Wee Russell. In 1939, he appeared with "Bobby Hacket and Band" in the Warner Brothers & Vitaphone film musical short-subject, On the Air. Condon married fashion copywriter Phyllis Smith in 1942. They had two daughters.
Condon did a series of jazz radio broadcasts, Eddie Condon's Jazz Concerts, from New York's Town Hall during 1944–45 which were nationally popular. These recordings survive, and have been issued on the Jazzology label.
From 1945 through 1967 he ran his own New York jazz club, Eddie Condon's, first located on West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village, then 52nd Street near Sixth Avenue, on the present site of the CBS headquarters building; then later, on the south side of East 56th Street, east of Second Avenue. In the 1950s Condon recorded a sequence of classic albums for Columbia Records.
Condon toured Britain in 1957 with a band including Wild Bill Davison, Cutty Cutshall, Gene Schroeder and George Wettling. His last tour was in 1964, when he took a band to Australia and Japan. Condon's men, on that tour, were top mainstream jazz musicians: Buck Clayton (trumpet), Pee Wee Russell (clarinet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Dick Cary (piano and alto horn), Jack Lesberg (bass), Cliff Leeman (drums), Jimmy Rushing (vocals). Billy Banks, a vocalist who had recorded with Condon and Pee Wee Russell in 1932, and had lived in obscurity in Japan for many years, turned up at one of the 1964 concerts: Pee Wee asked him "have you got any more gigs?".
In 1948, Condon's autobiography We Called It Music was published. Eddie Condon's Treasury of Jazz (1956) was a collection of articles co-edited by Condon and Richard Gehman.
From 1964 on, illness prevented him from travelling much, though he embarked on occasional tours and appeared from time to time in clubs and at festivals. In his last public appearance July 5, 1972, he played at Carnegie Hall during the Newport Jazz Festival in New York City. He was hospitalized two days later.

On August 4, 1973, Condon died of a bone disease at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, New York. He was 68. (Compiled from various sources mainly Wikipedia) 

The classic Condon band really wails on this 1952 broadcast with Edmond Hall, Wild Bill Davidson, Cliff Leeman, Cutty Cutshall, Gene Schroeder and Bob Casey.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Billo Frometa born 15 November 1915

Billo Frómeta (b. November 15, 1915 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - Caracas May 5, 1988) was a Dominican Republic orchestra conductor, arranger and composer who lived and worked most of his life in Venezuela, where he is remembered as a dance hall legend with his Billos Caracas Boys in the 1950s and 1960s.
Luis María Pereyra Frómeta was born in Pimentel, Provincia Duarte,Republica Dominicana, on November 15, 1915; he would move with his family to San Francisco de Macorís some years later. The school he attended there had compulsory music lessons, so he learned much of his musical training there.
In 1930, at the age of 15, he founded and was the resident conductor of the Banda del Cuerpo de Bomberos de Ciudad Trujillo (Ciudad Trujillo's Fire Brigade's Band). He also founded the Orquesta Sinfónica de Santo Domingo during this time.
In 1933, he moved back to Santo Domingo. During these years, he would meet and work with some of his closest friends and associates: Freddy Coronado, Ernesto Chapuseaux and Simó Damirón, whom he already knew from school. The Conjunto Tropical and the Santo Domingo Jazz Band were formed then, as well.
Frómeta then began studying Pre-Medicine in the Universidad de Santo Domingo and had to abandon all musical activity during this time. However, he eventually dropped out on his third year to dedicate himself fully to music.
Frómeta and his orchestra arrived in Venezuela in December 1937 with his orchestra to play regularly at the Hotel Madrid in Caracas, at the famed the Roof Garden. The Santo Domingo Jazz Band did well, but the club owners didn't think the name would stick, so they had Frómeta change it to something more marketeable. Frómeta went along, which got him barred from ever returning to his native Dominican Republic as Trujillo considered the change- "Billo's Caracas Boys"- an insult.
Famous for his boleros, or romantic songs, Billo's big, brass-heavy orchestra was fronted by many different popular singers over its long history. Frómeta would continue to play in Venezuela until the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958. Accused of being a supporter of the regime, he was barred by the Asociación Musical de D.F y Estado Miranda from ever playing in Venezuela again. Following this, he moved to Cuba to play with a Cuban band there.

In 1960, a special session of the National Assembly was convened in Caracas. The purpose was to lift the ban passed on Billo in 1958, which was by then considered to have been unfair. That very same year, Frómeta returned to Venezuela.

Billo's Caracas Boys continue to perform their unique brand of Afro-Cuban-influenced music as resident band at the Roof Garden of Hotel Madrid. Influenced by such Cuban bands as Orquesta Del Casino De La Plaza, Billo's Caracas Boys built their early repertoire on a mix of guarachos, boleros, merengues, and joropos. Frometa continued to lead the group until his death. In his later years, he did not regularly play his instrument (the saxophone), but simply directed on stage.
On April 27, 1988, he suffered a stroke while rehearsing with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra for a concert-tribute in his honour that would occur the very next day: just after he finished conducting the practice run for "Un Cubano en Caracas", he collapsed on the ground as the orchestra was applauding his performance. He was rushed to the Polyclinic Santiago de León where he underwent surgery and remained in intensive care in a coma until the night of May 5, 1988, when he died.    (Compiled mainly from Wikipedia)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Janet Lawson born 13 November 1940

Janet Lawson (born Janet Polun; November 13, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland) is a jazz singer and educator.
Lawson was born in Baltimore to a Jewish father and Catholic mother from Eastern Europe. Her father was a jazz drummer and her mother was a singer and lyricist who sometimes sang in her father's band. At home, they worked on songs together at the piano. Janet was performing on the radio at age three, and singing with jazz bands before her eighteenth birthday.
When she was eighteen, she moved to New York City and got a job as a secretary at Columbia Records. She lived across the street from Al Jeter, the head of Riverside Records, and made contacts when she attended parties at his penthouse apartment. She went to jazz clubs and was inspired by seeing Thelonious Monk. She made her debut at the Village Vanguard with Art Farmer.
During the 1970s, while in her thirties, Lawson discovered transcendental meditation and yoga, and she spent time in California, singing and studying theatre. Meanwhile, the flip side of a 1970 release of  “Two Little Rooms,” a jazz tune called “Dindi,” had become a sleeper hit in England, and suddenly Lawson found herself in demand.
She started her own quintet in 1976 and became known as an inventive and expressive scat singer with a very wide range. One night whilst playing at Beefsteak Charlie’s on 13th and Fifth, they were spotted by New York Times critic John S. Wilson. The next day, Wilson’s New York Times piece loudly proclaimed, “Janet Lawson Has the Dream Jazz Voice.” 
Engagements and recordings with artists like Eddie Jefferson, Ron Carter, Bob Dorough, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Milt Hinton, Barney Kessel, Dave Liebman, Joe Newman, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Ed Thigpen, Cedar Walton, Count Basie and Duke Ellington followed. There were more hit recordings (“So High,” “Shazam/Captain Marvel,” “Dreams Can Be”) and, in 1981, a Grammy Nomination.
She recorded two superb albums in 1980 and 1983 for Inner City and Omnisound. Lawson  also appeared on records by Eddie Jefferson (1977) and David Lahm (1982).
She has taught voice at New York University and the late 1990’s the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, given private lessons, taught elementary school children, and has made trips every year to Latvia to attend a youth music camp.
In the early 2000s, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and Bell's palsy, suffering damage to her vocal cords. The illness stymied her career, and stripped her vocal chords of much of their power and flexibility. Her recovery has been slow, but steady, and that she’s continued to pursue her development as an artist and a human being throughout the often frustrating and maddening process of healing is a testament to her strength of character and spirit.
At present Janet is engaged in a health crisis and has left NYC to live with family in Baltimore.
Awards and honours: Grammy Award nomination, Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female, 1982. Hall of Fame nomination, International Association for Jazz Education, 2007.
(Compiled and edited from Wikipedia, All About Jazz and Allegro (newsletter of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York)

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Sally Kelly born 11 November 1937

Sally Kelly (born 11 November 1937) was one of very few girls managed by the UK rock and roll pioneering manager Larry Parnes.
Born in Dublin, Sally came into show business the hard way, starting in panto at Omah at the age of 14. Shortly afterwards she won a holiday camp talent contest and as a result joined a road show. She toured as a singer with the show for more than two years in both Ireland and England.
When the rock’n’roll craze hit teenagers, Sally formed her own all girls skiffle group “The Jeanagers”. The group worked northern towns for more than a year before breaking up.
Sally headed for Soho, the night clubs and solo singing spots. She entered for commercial T.V.’s “Find The Singer” contest and won her area heat. Larry Parnes one of the judges on that occasion, immediately signed Sally on a long-term contract.4 foot 6 inch Sandy Kelly made her debut on 21 June 1959 at the Liverpool Empire. It was rumoured that Sally was introduced to Larry by the controversial journalist Nancy Spain. They would hang out at Larry's, and Foster's Agency supremo Hymie Zahl's, Golden Guitar Club in Soho.
Although Sally, who was nicknamed Miss Rock ‘n’ Roll, was included in many of Parnes' one-nighter package shows, she didn't figure in many of the downtime activities enjoyed by most of the guys.
Sally and her roadie/partner often made their own transport arrangements so subsequently she wasn't part of the Parnes stable as many saw it. Larry saw her as a Brenda Lee style performer but Sally's vocal prowess couldn't be compared to Brenda's.

She sang regularly with all the other artistes in both Larry Parnes’ touring shows “The Marty Wilde Show” and “The Big Beat Show”.


Her recordings sadly did not reach the British charts, she didn’t release an album, but she did manage to release two singles on the Decca label, Little Cutie/ Come Back To Me (1959) & He'll Have To Stay/ Honey, That's Alright (1960) & she also recorded 'Believe in the Rain´& ´So much in love.'  She then resurfaced for one additional recording in late 1971.

After which her trail goes cold! Information from YouTube comments state that after her contract ended with Parnes, Sally continued singing in pubs and clubs for many years. She now resides in Spain with her daughter.
Any other information regarding Sally Kelly will be greatly appreciated.
(Compiled and edited from The Marty Wilde Big Beat programme notes (1959), forum and