Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Marilyn Maye is highlight of UMSL jazz festival

Marilyn Maye is highlight of UMSL jazz festival - The Current - Arts and Entertainment

Maye has just returned from a run at the famed "Birdland" music club and opens at a new Kansas City club called Jardine's on Monday, so she is very busy.

Marilyn Maye lives partly in Texas and partly in Kansas City. Despite being in the same state, Maye had not performed in St. Louis for 20 years. However, she may be back before too long. She had high praise for Jim Widner, who directs both the festival and UM-St. Louis' own Jazz Ensemble. "Jim worked with me years ago on the road and in Las Vegas, playing bass in my band," she said "He is a very good musician.

Widner joined her on stage as part of her band again for the Friday night performance, along with the three other musicians, Rob Fleeman, Jimmy Eklof, and Billy Stritch, who make up her regular band.

Marilyn Maye's style harkens back to the late big band era of Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme, both of whom she counts among her own favorite singers. She also cited Jack Jones and Joe Williams as favorites.

"Mostly I listened to male singers," she said. "That is better for female singers, otherwise you risk picking up the style of other women singers. You want to develop your own style, to have a distinctive voice."

Marilyn Maye has that distinctive voice. She and Mel Torme are the only singers who have been invited twice to perform with the famous Philly Pops.

Maye says that when she sings on stage, she loves to connect with the audience.

"Don't sing for yourself; do a presentation," she said, talking about making that link with the listeners. She said that too many singers today look like they are singing for themselves, not for the audience. Singers, she said, are not thinking as much about the audience and are entertaining themselves.

"Don't take it too lightly," she advised new singers. "It is fun, but it is serious fun."

Saturday, April 23, 2005



By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pioneering be-bop jazz drummer Stan Levey, who kept time for such musical greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Stan Kenton orchestra, has died at age 79, friends said on Friday.

Levey, who ended a 30-year music career in 1973 to become a photographer, died on Tuesday at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles, about two months after undergoing cancer surgery, said friend and business partner Arthur Pritz.

The self-taught Levey was just a 16-year-old upstart without his own drum kit when he first played with Gillespie in 1942 at a hometown Philadelphia club, where he talked his way into sitting in with the famed trumpeter's band.

After moving to New York, Levey fell in with the group of musicians -- among them Gillespie, Parker, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins and Dexter Gordon -- who founded the be-bop sound that revolutionized jazz.

Levey soon joined the Gillespie-Parker quintet, a mid-'40s ensemble that Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather called "the first genuine all-be-bop group to play on 52nd Street, the famed block in midtown Manhattan where clubs lined both sides of the street." Pianist Al Haig and bassist Curly Russell rounded out the lineup.

"He sat back there and gave you that good time to where you can go anywhere you want to go rhythmically and musically," vibe player Terry Gibbs told the Times, describing Levey's style.

Levey's pioneering be-bop work behind the drums prompted Gillespie to dub him "the original original."

As Parker's roommate during those years, Levey had a front-row seat to the saxophonist's creative process. One of his favorite stories, according to Pritz, was seeing "Bird" wake up from a sound sleep one night to compose and play his seminal work "Confirmation," then go back to bed.

Levey also played big-band stints with such legends as Woody Herman and Benny Goodman before gaining wide prominence with a two-year gig as drummer for the Stan Kenton orchestra.

Besides his collaboration with most of the leading jazz instrumentalists of his era, Levey worked with such vocal giants as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

Settling in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, Levey spent five years as a regular at the Lighthouse nightclub in Hermosa Beach, where he played with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars. It was there that he became a major influence in the "West Coast," or "cool school" movement of modern jazz.

Levey appeared on more than 2,000 recordings during his career -- his drum work can be heard on such hits as Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" and Peggy Lee's "Fever." And he played for numerous TV shows during the 1960s, including "Batman," "Mission: Impossible" and "The Munsters."

Featured prominently in Ken Burns' documentary "Jazz," Levey also recounts his career in a newly released documentary he produced with Pritz, "Stan Levy: 'The Original Original."'

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A rare shot of Ella and Nelson Posted by Hello

Remember that the 25th of april is Ella's birthday! Posted by Hello

Mi raccomando, ricordatevelo, il 25 aprile non è solo la festa della liberazione ma anche l'anniversario della nascita di Ella Fitzgerald! Posted by Hello