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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Cyril Stapleton born 31 December 1914


Cyril Stapleton (Dec. 31, 1914 - Feb. 25, 1974) was a British violinist and jazz bandleader. Born in Mapperley, Nottingham. At age seven, Cyril began studying the violin, and, at age 12, made his first broadcast from 5NG, the local radio station in Nottingham. He was often heard on broadcasts from the BBC Studios in Birmingham, but while still very young, he went to Czechoslovakia in order to study under Sevcik, the famous Czech violin teacher.  

While still a teenager, he found work playing in cinema 'pit orchestras' accompanying silent films. At age 17, he won a Trinity College of Music (London) scholarship. While still a student, he found work playing in the Henry Hall Dance Band, just formed for BBC broadcasts. He was with the band on their first ever broadcast, and can be heard playing on some of Hall's early Columbia 78s recorded in 1932. At some point, Cyril left Hall and he returned to Nottingham, and again found work in the local cinemas. 

He next joined the Jack Payne Orchestra, and was a member when the band toured to South Africa. And, again was heard on some of Payne's 1936 Rex label recordings (78rpm). When that job ended, Cyril formed his own band in London, where he found work at The Casino (Compton Street), and also at Fisher's Restaurant (New Bond Street). In 1939, he made his very first broadcast with his own band. He also played briefly with the Jack Hylton Orchestra, under Billy Ternent. 

With the start of WWII, his musical career came to an abrupt halt when he enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an air gunner. He soon was organizing music for Camp shows and concerts at various military stations. During this time, he visited New York City. During his final year of RAF service (he served for a total of five years) he became a member of the RAF Symphony Orchestra then playing in Uxbridge Upon his Service discharge, he followed a career in 'Classical' music, and at one time, was a member of three orchestras: the London Symphony, the National Symphony and the Philharmonia Orchestra.   

In 1947, for whatever reasons, found him back in London again playing at Fisher's Restaurant with his own band. (One of his vocalists was a young Dick James, who later became music publisher for The Beatles.) Stapleton's band was also heard on late night broadcasts. In 1948, he added a string section, and his work on such radio shows as "Your Hit Parade" and "Golden Slipper" brought him wider fame.

In 1952, the "BBC Dance Orchestra" became the "BBC Show Band", and Cyril Stapleton became the leader. The Show Band was also seen in some early BBC Telecasts, further increasing Stapleton's fame. The first broadcast was heard on October 2, 1952. Robert Farnon arranged the band's signature tune, which opened to the words: "Just For You... “As the BBC's prestige Pop music orchestra, the band attracted both top British stars, and American entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Nat 'King' Cole. In late 1955, a second Show Band film "Just for You" (Cinemascope, directed by Michael Carreras, Odeon Cinema circuit) appeared. In 'The Story of a Starry Night' section, Stapleton was the featured violin soloist, and further on also accompanied Joan Regan on piano.  

On June 28, 1957, the BBC announced a decision to end the band. Cyril then formed his own group with which he toured and appeared at venues all over the UK. He even managed two chart hits in the United States with the instrumental "The Italian Theme" (#25, 1956) and "The Children's Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Whack)" (#13, 1959). Stapleton continued to tour and record into the 1970s; in 1965 he also became head of A&R for Pye Records.Sadly he died from a heart attack at only 59 years of age.


 
Over the years, many of the unknown youngsters who guested with the band, went on to stardom in their own right, including such names as singer Matt Monro, pianist Bill McGuffie (who later had his own orchestra), Rikki Fulton, Stan Stennett , Bert Weedon and Tommy Whittle. (info mainly from Big Bands Database)



"Theme from "Department S"" by Cyril Stapleton

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Skeeter Davis born 30 December 1931


Mary Frances Penick (December 30, 1931 – September 19, 2004), better known as Skeeter Davis, was an American country music singer best known for crossover pop music songs of the early 1960s. She started out as part of The Davis Sisters as a teenager in the late 1940s, eventually landing on RCA Records. In the late '50s, she became a solo star. Her best-known hit was the pop classic "The End of the World" in 1963. 
 
One of the first women to achieve major stardom in the country music field as a solo vocalist, she was an acknowledged influence on Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and was hailed as an "extraordinary country/pop singer" by The New York Times music critic Robert Palmer. 

Davis was the first of seven children born to William and Punzie Penick, in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Because her grandfather thought that she had a lot of energy for a young child, he nicknamed Mary Frances "Skeeter" (slang for mosquito). In 1947, the Penick family moved to Erlanger, Kentucky, where Skeeter met Betty Jack Davis and Wanda Rose Rader at Dixie Heights High School, becoming instant friends. They sang together through much of high school, and at Decoursey Baptist Church, where Wanda's father was the pastor. They formed a group known as the Davis Sisters (although they were unrelated), and started singing on Detroit radio station WJR's program Barnyard Frolics. Wanda was unable to travel, so Skeeter & B.J. began to make a name as a duet. Eventually, the duo were signed by RCA Records in 1951. 

RCA Records producer Steve Sholes liked the Davis Sisters' harmonies and offered the duo a recording contract in 1953. Their most successful release was "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know", which spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the country charts in 1953, as well as making the Top 20 on the pop charts. The record ranks No. 65 on the Top 100 Country Singles of All Time, according to Billboard historian Joel Whitburn. 

While "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" was climbing the charts, the Davis Sisters were involved in a major car accident on August 1, 1953. The crash killed Betty Jack Davis and left Skeeter with severe injuries. After the accident, Skeeter and Betty Jack's sister Georgia continued as the Davis Sisters although none of their records were major hits. Skeeter decided to retire from the music industry in 1956 and get married, ending the duet. 

In the early '60s, Davis followed the heels of Brenda Lee and Patsy Cline to become one of the first big-selling female country crossover acts, although her pop success was pretty short-lived. The weepy ballad "The End of the World," though, was a massive hit, reaching number two in 1963.
 
 
 
 
"I Can't Stay Mad at You," a Top Ten hit the same year, was downright rock & roll; penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, it sounded like (and was) an authentic Brill Building girl group-styled classic. Goffin and King also wrote another successful girl group knockoff for her, "Let Me Get Close to You," although such efforts were the exception rather than the rule. Usually she sang sentimental, country-oriented tunes with enough pop hooks to catch the ears of a wider audience, such as "I Will." 

Davis concentrated on the country market after the early '60s, although she never seemed too comfortable limiting herself to the Nashville crowd. She recorded a Buddy Holly tribute album in 1967, when Holly wasn't a hot ticket with either the country or the rock audience. But she certainly didn't reject country conventions either: She performed on the Grand Ole Opry and recorded duets with Bobby Bare, Porter Wagoner, and George Hamilton IV. In the 1980s, she had a mild comeback with the rock crowd after recording an album with NRBQ; she also married NRBQ's bass player, Joey Spampinato. 

Davis continued to perform frequently throughout much of the 1990s and into 2000. Quite a bit of her touring during the 1980s and 1990s was in international markets such as Barbados and Singapore where she remained a pop superstar. In 2001 she became incapacitated by the breast cancer that would claim her life. While Davis remained a member of the Grand Ole Opry until her death, she last appeared there in 2002. She died of breast cancer in a Nashville, Tennessee, hospice at the age of 72, on September 19, 2004.  (Info edited from Wikipedia & All music)



Skeeter performs her signature hit. From 1965

Monday, 29 December 2014

Thore Ehrling born 29 December 1912


Thore Olof Gottfrid Ehrling (born 29 December 1912 in Stockholm, died 21 October 1994 at Lidingo), was a band leader, musician, composer, arranger and the most successful of all Swedish band leaders during the 1940s and 1950s. He is the father of the composer Staffan Ehrling . 

Thore Ehrling formed a jazz band in school. There he played the trumpet, after changing from althorn, which he played in the ordinary school orchestra. From 1931 - 1935 he studied at the Conservatory of Music in Stockholm. Ehrling played trumpet with, among others, Hakan von Eichwald and Charles Redland in the 1920's and 1930's, and formed their own orchestra in 1938. Later it was extended to being a big band and became one of the leaders in the Swedish swing-era.

The band was on of the most loved bands in Sweden in the forties, in the winter Thore played at Bal palais and in the summer outside at Skansen. Still you can hear older people, speaking with a dreamy glow in their eyes, how they found their love dancing at Skansen glancing over the shoulder at beautiful and well singing vocalists like Sonia Sjöbeck or later Britt-Inger Dreilick. The band's signature tune "Let's dance" started many radio transmissions, eg from Skansen 1940 - 1956 .His band was high class and most of the Swedish top musicians where always to be found in his orchestra. 
 
 
 

Besides the big bands, he sometimes led small Dixieland-type groups. On a 1939 recording session, two of Thore's sidemen were Nat and Bruts Gonella. In addition to the signature tune he wrote several songs, including the most famous is "A moonlight walk", "Rain-laden clouds" and "Ole dole doff". He founded in 1941 music publisher Ehrling & Löfven Holm (from 1952 Thore Ehrling Music Ltd), which today also includes Nils-Georg's music publishing AB Edition Sylvain AB.  


Thore Ehrling disbanded his orchestra in 1957 and worked for a quarter of a century of Radio Service / Swedish Radio , where he led the Radiotjänst dance orchestra. In 1959 and 1960 he was conductor of the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest on TV. From 1932 to 1972 he recorded more than 1000 phonograph recordings. He died on October 21, 1994 in Lidingö, Stockholms län, Sweden and is buried in Lidingö cemetery.  

(Info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia)
 


Thore Ehrling leader; Georg Björklund, Arne Domnerus, Curt Blomquist sax, Arnold Johansson, Gösta Nilsson, Arne Ryskog trumpet; Georg Vernon trombone; Sven Stigberg guitar; Stig Holm piano; Hasse Tellemar bass; Henry Wallin trummor Melodi: "Opus One" i arrangemang av Carl-Henrik Norin

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Andre Verchuren born 28 December 1920



André Verchuren (born Neuilly-sous-Clermont, Oise 28 December 1920; died Chantilly 10 July 2013) was a French accordionist and songwriter.  

In France André Verchuren was known as the king of the accordion. He belonged to the populist, crowd-pleasing school of virtuosi of the instrument known as the piano à bretelles – piano with straps – alongside Yvette Horner, dubbed “the queen of the accordion”. 

Born André Verschueren at Neuilly-sous-Clermont, near Paris, in 1920, he strapped on his first accordion as a four-year old – “before I could write,” he stressed – and thus continued the family tradition started by his paternal grandfather, a Belgian miner with a sideline in bal des familles, and his father, who ran an accordion school. In his mid-teens, he began teaching at the school and gigging with his father and his mother on drums. In 1936, he won the accordion world championship, leaving audience and judges aghast by breaking with tradition and playing standing up. Until the advent of the Second World War, he juggled music commitments with work as a waiter and a gardener. 

He joined the French resistance and sheltered Allied parachutists passing through the French capital, naming his eldest son Harry Williams after one of them. However, in 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Dachau concentration camp where he spent a harrowing year. On 14 July 1944, he was badly beaten after encouraging fellow prisoners to sing “La Marseillaise”. In common with many veterans, Verchuren didn’t like talking about the war but was commended for his actions by both President
Eisenhower and Général de Gaulle. In 1986 he was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian honour, and was promoted to “Officier” of the order in 1997. Other awards acknowledged both his role in the resistance and his standing as the country’s top accordionist.  

Following the liberation, Verchuren struggled to recover the agility in his fingers but eventually returned to performing. In 1950, Murena put him forward for the Radio Luxembourg contest show Swing Contre Musette, which commanded a huge listenership. Appearing in front of an appreciative crowd at the Moulin Rouge, he beat the jazz combo and earned himself a record deal and a slot on the commercial station for the next 17 years – his radio career continued for another 13 years after he moved to RTL’s main rival, Europe 1.  
 
 
                         Here's "Tico Tico" from above album

 
 
Nicknamed “Verchu” by his millions of fans, in 1956, he became the first accordionist to appear at the Olympia, and returned to headline the famed Parisian venue in 2003 and 2007. He toured constantly, playing up to 150 shows a year, and pioneered the bal-music-hall concept, combining a dance band repertoire and a dynamic stage show with the odd skit. He also guested in popular films and was a mainstay of the French television schedules.  
 
In 1968, he published his autobiography, predictably entitled Mon accordéon et moi. A cycling aficionado, in 1972, he recorded ‘’Vive Poulidor’’, a paean to Raymond Poulidor, France’s most popular cyclist of the day. But this punishing schedule took its toll. In 1974, Verchuren’s wife was killed in a car crash for which he was held responsible since he was driving.  

“Dance halls, music and touring are like drugs to me,” he admitted. “As soon as I strap on the accordion, I feel like a different, younger man. It’s on stage I feel most alive. That’s what I live for.”

“My life can be summed up with a few impressive figures: I travelled seven million kilometres by car, one million kilometres by plane, and sold over 50 million records. But most importantly, I made 17 million couples get up and dance,” Verchuren told Le Parisien newspaper in 1992. 


He finally retired in 2012; his death on 10 July 2013, aged 91, was caused by a heart attack while dining in a pizzeria. He had two sons, both of whom play the accordion professionally. (Info edited from the Independent.co.uk)
 

Friday, 26 December 2014

Jimmy Roselli born 26 December 1925


Michael John "Jimmy" Roselli (December 26, 1925 – June 30, 2011) was one of the most significant Italian-American pop singers of his time, during an era of formidable competition from such performers as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Vic Damone and Jerry Vale.

Roselli was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. He had success with the song "Mala Femmena", which sold over three million records in 1963. It never was a hit song for him, but is considered his signature song. His only pop hit was a remake of "There Must Be A Way", a song previously recorded by Joni James. It reached number 93 in the Billboards pop charts. "There Must Be A Way" was an easy-listening hit, reaching #13 in Billboard and #2 in Record World. The song was recorded in 1967. It became a hit in Britain and he performed at the London Palladium and Royal Albert Hall.

 He also had success with the song "All The Time" that same year. The song reached number 19 in the Billboard's easy listening charts. His third and last hit song was "Please Believe Me" in 1968. That song reached number 31 in the Billboard's easy listening charts. Those were his only U.S. hit singles, although his version of "When Your Old Wedding Ring Was New" twice appeared in the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at number 51 in 1983, and number 52 in 1987.

At the beginning of his career, with appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, with Jimmy Durante, and on the famous Copacabana, critics were calling him a 'miracle'". As the New Yorker Magazine states, "guys were trying to put a stranglehold on him. He pushed them all away. Although he was in good terms with a number of mob chieftains, he claimed that he had "never done business with organized criminals". Roselli at times was relegated to selling his music out of the trunk of his car parked in Little Italy in Manhattan (he was the founder and owner of M&R Records).
 

 
Jimmy Roselli is a favorite among Italian-Americans and his signature tune "Mala Femmina" is featured twice in Martin Scorsese's early classic Mean Streets. Roselli sang in perfect Neapolitan dialect. Other Neapolitan songs recorded by Roselli include "Core 'ngrato", "Anema e core" and "Scapricciatiello". Jerry Lewis said of him that "Roselli sings as an Italian should sing". He sang the title song "Who Can Say?" for the 1966 Italian documentary film Africa Addio. Under United Artists, he delivered roughly 35 albums and he often appeared to packed crowds at the legendary 500 Club in Atlantic City.

From 1969, however, Roselli all but disappeared. Bookings dried up. Radio stations stopped playing his songs and his records vanished from the stores. According to Roselli, the sudden reversal came about when Sinatra’s mother Dolly (the Sinatras were neighbours in Hoboken, New Jersey) sent round two sidekicks to ask him whether he would sing at a charity concert she was organising. Insulted that she did not come herself, Roselli replied: ”Tell her I’ve got to get $25,000, and she’s got to pay for the orchestra.”

Roselli’s claim that a furious Sinatra then arranged for his Mafia pals to torpedo his career was subsequently backed up by New York investigators. As a result, it was Sinatra who became the most famous Italian-American crooner from Hoboken.

In his authorised biography of the singer, Making the Wiseguys Weep, David Evanier suggested that it was Roselli’s self-destructive streak as much the Mob that held back his career. He turned down a role in The Godfather Part II, as well as appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, because they would not pay what he thought he was worth. He walked out of a seven-show stint on The Ed Sullivan Show after only three appearances .

In the 1990s it appears that Roselli settled his differences with the Mob. He returned to the performing circuit, earning up to $100,000 a time.

He retired in 2004 and died from heart complications in 2011 at his home in Clearwater, Florida. (Info edited from the Telegraph.co.uk and Wikipedia)


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Ralph Marterie born 24 December 1914


Ralph Marterie, (born as Ralph Martire) 24 December 1914, Accerra, near Naples, Italy, d. 10 October 1978, Dayton, Ohio, USA., was a musician, arranger and one of the last of the big-band leaders who was to enjoy consistent commercial success.

While Marterie was still a child his parents emigrated to the USA, where his father joined the orchestra of the Chicago Civic Opera. Ralph was still a teenager when he started playing trumpet with Danny Russo's Oriole Orchestra. He went on to play in local theatres and with other bands in Chicago, which was at that time the country's largest musical centre outside New York. Consequently, Marterie never had to leave the city to find work, joining the NBC staff orchestra where he played under conductors such as Percy Faith and André Kostelanetz. During World War II Marterie led a US Navy band, then after the war he returned to Chicago as a leader with ABC radio.

His big opportunity came when Mercury Records signed him in 1951, and gave the band a big build up. It is interesting to note that Ralph formed the band at the end of the big band era. Still, other leaders were willing to give the band-leading business a try. Ralph's new band debuted in 1951, the same year that Billy May organized his big band. The following year, 1952, saw the start of the Sauter-Finegan orchestra. In 1953 Les and Larry Elgart formed their short lived band, while, in the mid 50's Maynard Ferguson brought his band to fruition.

Marterie toured with his band throughout the 1950s, appearing at Frank Dailey's Meadowbrook on the East Coast as well as The Hollywood Palladium on the West Coast. At times, Bill Walters, Janice Borla, and Lou Prano, were vocalists. They had a radio show sponsored by the Marlboro Cigarette Company. They appeared on WGN's "The Cavalcade of Bands" television show. After Mercury Records, the orchestra recorded for United Artists and for Musicor.

He did not achieve instant success but in 1952 the band spent 10 weeks in the US charts with "Caravan", earning a second Gold Disc the following year with "Pretend". His version of "Crazy, Man, Crazy" reached #13 on the Billboard jockey chart and #11 on Cashbox in June, 1953. is album and singles output varied between swing standards, novelties and pop instrumentals that highlighted his trademark of trumpet and guitar voiced together (compare his temporary partnership with guitarist/musical director Al Caiola on a cover version of "Acapulco 22"). There were moderate hits with "Guaglione", "Skokiaan" and "Tequila", which were successful enough to maintain his reputation and keep him working through changing fashions in pop music. Marterie was still touring with a band until his death in Dayton, where he had just played a one-nighter in October 1978.
 

 
 
The daughters of Ralph Marterie held onto his music library and personal memorabilia for many years, but in late 2001 placed an ad in International Musician, offering more than 100 scores written for his band, in lots of 10 at $700 each. Then, in January 2005, scores and other personal items were listed on Ebay with a buy-it-now price of $2,500, then re-listed in March, with a starting price of $2,200. Other memorabilia is in the hands of private collectors. (Info from various sources, mainly Oldies.com)



 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Andre Kostelanetz born 22 December 1901



André Kostelanetz (December 22, 1901 – January 13, 1980) was a popular orchestral music conductor and arranger, one of the pioneers of easy listening music.
 
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia; educated in Czarist days, he and his family remained there through the early days of the revolution, and Kostelanetz became the assistant conductor at the Petrograd Opera before he reached the age of 20. By 1922, though, the Soviet regime was weeding Imperial influences from the cultural world, and the family emigrated to the United States.
Kostelanetz quickly found work with the Metropolitan Opera as an assistant conductor, and whenCBS radio formed its own studio orchestra, he went to work for them as conductor for classical and light music shows.

Despite his deep roots in classical music, Kostelanetz never turned his nose up at popular music. Instead, he adapted numerous tunes from operattas, musicals, and vaudeville to a symphonic orchestration, and listeners came in flocks. Few pop arrangers could match his background and resources, and, at the time, most classical artists refused to venture away from the grand old repertoire, so Kostelanetz grabbed an early lead and held onto it for much of the next four decades.



Kostelanetz never completely left the classical world. He recorded lighter classical pieces such as Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite" and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" over and over again, and had a very successful series of "Operas without Words." He was married to the diva, Lily Pons, and accompanied her in countless performances on stage and radio. He appeared with the New York Philharmonic--albeit in a pops concert--at least once a year well into the 1970s. And he sponsored the first performance and recording of composer Alan Hovanhess' ecological oratorio, "And God Created Great Whales."


 But his main focus was on combining constant improvements in recording technology with a symphonic ensemble and tightly woven and highly polished arrangements to create what we know and love as easy listening--or rather, elevator--music. He recorded a steady 4-6 albums a year for Columbia for over 25 years, and as time went by, he drifted more and more towards contemporary material. If it was in the Billboard Top 10, you stood a good chance of hearing it smoothed out, mellowed down, gently anesthetized, and carefully delivered by Kostelanetz six months to a year later. Not that he ever tackled anything the slightest bit provocative. MGM's Fantabulous Strings might flail away at "The Beat Goes On," but Kostelanetz stuck with the milder "Scarborough" fare.

Outside the United States, one of his best known works was an orchestral arrangement of the tune "With a Song in my Heart", which was the signature tune of a long-running BBC radio program, at first called Forces Favourites, then Family Favourites, and finally Two Way Family Favourites.



He commissioned many works, including Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait, Jerome Kern's Portrait of Mark Twain, William Schuman's New England Triptych, Paul Creston's Frontiers, Ferde Grofé's Hudson River Suite, Virgil Thomson's musical portraits of Fiorello La Guardia and Dorothy Thompson, Alan Hovhaness's Floating World, and Ezra Laderman's Magic Prison. William Walton dedicated his Capriccio burlesco to Kostelanetz, who conducted the first performance and made the first recording, both with the New York Philharmonic. 

Toward the end of his recording career, his name was more of a brand than a true representation of who actually made the music, because nearly all of his output in the 1970s was arranged by others. Some of the arrangers credited on 1970s Kostelanetz albums include Teo Macero, Torrie Zito, Hank Levy, Luther Henderson, Jack Cortner, Eddie Sauter, Claus Ogerman, Jack Pleis, Tommy Newsom, Harold Wheeler, Bobby Scott, LaMont Johnson, Wade Marcus, Patrick Williams, Sammy Nestico, Warren Vincent, Dick Hyman, Jorge Calandrelli and Don Sebesky.

Kostelanetz's last concert was A Night in Old Vienna with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at that city's War Memorial Opera House on December 31, 1979. 

He died in Haiti on January 13, 1980, aged 78.  (Info edited from Space Age Pop & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Rita Reys born 21 December 1924



Rita Reys (born Maria Everdina Reijs;  21 December 1924 – 28 July 2013) was a jazz singer from the Netherlands. At the 1960 French jazz festival of Juan-les-Pins, she received the title, "Europe's first lady of jazz".
 
Rita Reys was born in Rotterdam and – with a violinist/conductor for a father and a dancer for a mother – grew up taking performance for granted. As a child, she heard only classical music at home, but as a teenage singer,she began winning local talent competitions. At 19, when she met the jazz drummer Wessel Ilcken, she was introduced to jazz. She married Ilcken, joined his sextet and toured the Netherlands. She appeared with the bassist Ted Powder in Belgium and Luxembourg, and with the Piet van Dijk orchestra in Spain and north Africa, between 1945 and 1950.
Reys then began leading her own group with Ilcken, toured England, and, after moving to Stockholm in 1953, made her first recordings with leading Swedish musicians including the baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin. She also got acquainted with many American artists regularly visiting the country, including Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young and the trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Clifford Brown and Art Farmer.

The Columbia Records producer George Avakian invited her to the US in 1956, and she recorded The Cool Voice of Rita Reys with an A-list bebop lineup including Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Donald Byrd, musicians with whom she also performed at New York's Village Vanguard. Reys also worked in the US with the organist Jimmy Smith, began a lifelong friendship with Bennett and later returned to the Vanguard with the drummer Chico Hamilton's band.


Ilcken died of a brain haemorrhage in 1957. Reys stayed on the road to support herself and their daughter, Leila – working in Germany with the celebrated bandleader Kurt Edelhagen and pianist Bengt Hallberg, and in Paris with Young. Reys also began performing with Ilcken's pianist Pim Jacobs, whom she married in 1960.


            Here's "Falling In Love With Love" from above album

In 1969 she became the first Dutch jazz singer to perform at the New Orleans jazz festival (the city went on to make her a citizen of honour 11 years later). In middle age, Reys shifted toward a more broadly popular repertoire, collaborating with the conductor and arranger Rogier van Otterloo and his orchestra on Rita Reys Sings Burt Bacharach and Rita Reys Sings Michel Legrand (both of which won the Dutch music industry's Edison award), and later on songbook projects dedicated to George Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim.


Reys was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, but kept the news from the press and was back onstage with Jacobs at a sold-out Amsterdam Concertgebouw within weeks of surgery – a gig she subsequently recognised as "a new start". She made a Christmas album with Jacobs and Amsterdam's Metropole Orchestra in 1986. She also recorded two American Songbook albums with Jacobs – these were their last recordings before his death from cancer in 1996.

Accompanied by the pianist Lex Jasper, Reys went back on the road, recorded the albums Loss of Love – Rita Reys Sings Henry Mancini and (for her 75th birthday) The Lady Strikes Again, and in 2004 collaborated on the autobiography Rita Reys, Lady Jazz with the journalist Bert Vuijsje.

She dedicated the 2004 album Beautiful Love to Jacobs and made the 2010 album Young at Heart with the saxophonist Scott Hamilton and the organist Thijs van Leer. An inspiringly spirited and much-loved artist whose reputation in the Netherlands never waned, Reys' remarkable life in her homeland fulfilled Legrand's prediction, after her 1972 interpretations of his work: "From now on, every time I will write a song, I will think of the great Rita Reys, who sings the love songs with such love, that I really love her – and you will too."



On 28 July 2013, Reys died at the age of 88 in Breukelen, The Netherlands. (Info mainly from theGuardian.com)



Rita Reys performing Mr. Wonderful accompanied by the Pim Jacobs Trio and special guest Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone, during a TV program that was broadcast on Dutch public television in 1979 on occasion of Rita's album That Old Feeling.