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SPARTACUS

Hollywood On 52nd Street

Love Theme From Spartacus, composed by Alex North for the 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, starred and produced by Kirk Douglas. The supporting cast included Laurene Olivier, John Gavin, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis and Peter Ustinov, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, one of the four the film received. The film became the biggest moneymaker in Universal Studios’ history, until it w as surpassed by Airport in 1970.

The Story: It was inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War. In the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic has slid into corruption, its menial work done by armies of slaves. One of these, a proud and gifted man named Spartacus, is so uncooperative in his servitude that he is sentenced to fight as a gladiator. Spartacus forms a quiet relationship with a serving woman named Varinia, whom he refuses to rape when she is sent to “entertain” him in his cell. Rebellion ensues, the senate war is lost, and Spartacus is ultimately crucified but Varinia shows him his new born son before he dies.


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KING PLEASURE

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

King Pleasure was born Clarence Beeks on March 24, 1922 in Oakdale, Tennessee. He moved to New York City in the mid-1940s and while working as a bartender, he became a fan of bebop music. He first achieved popularity by singing the Eddie Jefferson penned vocalese classic Mood’s Mood For Love, based on a 1949 James Moody saxophone solo to “I’m In The Mood For Love”. On a night in late 1951 at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater, he won the competition and where Clarence Beeks became King Pleasure that night in Harlem.

Pleasure’s 1952 recording, featured vocalist Blossom Dearie, was his first after signing a contract with Prestige Records and is considered a jazz classic. He and Betty Carter also recorded a famous vocalese version of “Red Top”, a jazz classic penned by Kansas City’s Ben Kynard and recorded by Gene Ammons and others. Other notable recordings include “Parker’s Mood”, the year before Charlie Parker died in 1955, and Ammons’s “Hittin’ The Jug”, retitled as “Swan Blues” in 1962.

He would record with the Modern jazz Quartet, sans Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Lucky Thompson, with backup vocals by Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks along with The Three Riffs. In Los Angeles in 1960 he was recording with Teddy Edwards and Harold Land. But by this time his popularity was waning and he faded into obscurity. However, his early work influenced Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Bob Dorough, Mark Murphy, Al Jarreau, The Manhattan Transfer and others.

Jazz vocalist King Pleasure, an early master of vocalese, where a singer sings words to a famous instrumental solo passed away on March 21, 1982, three days before his 60th birthday.

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I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS

Hollywood On 52nd Street

My Buddy was composed by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn and was published in 1922. It was used in the Gus Kahn film biography “I’ll See You In My Dreams” in 1951 and became a Variety Hit Parade of a Half Century selection. The song also appeared in the non-musical film Buddy in 1997. I’ll See You in My Dreams is a 1951 musical film starring Doris Day and Danny Thomas, directed by Michael Curtiz.

The Story: Gus Kahn (Thomas)  is the prolific tunesmith, whose fortunes take an upswing in 1908 when he meets and falls in love with Grace LeBoy (Day). Kahn’s career ascends to spectacular heights via such hits as Pretty Baby, My Buddy, Toot Toot Tootsie and Makin’ Whoopee only to go into eclipse when he loses his savings in the 1929 stock-market crash.

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SOFIA RIBEIRO

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Sofia Ribeiro was born on March 18, 1978 in Lisboa, Portugal. She graduated with a degree in jazz performance from “Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo do Porto”, did a one year exchange program in Barcelona at “Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya”, and another one on scholarship at Berklee College of Music. She also received a master’s degree in jazz performance from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, and went on to study for one year at the “Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris”.

Ribeiro has recorded five CDs in duo and quartet settings, performed children’s music written for books, has toured throughout Europe performing at the Sunset Jazz Club, Jamboree, Silesian Jazz Festival as well as the Kennedy Center and Berklee Performance Center among others.,

Sofia has taken 1st prize at the international competitions “Crest Jazz Vocal” in France, 1st prize at the international competition for singing musicians “Voicingers” in Poland, and 2nd prize at the “Brussels International Young Jazz Singers Competition”, and was a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Vocalist and composer Sofia Ribeiro has developed strong and emotional performances blending elements of jazz, Brazilian and Portuguese music within her charming and powerful sound. She continues to perform, record and tour.

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NAT KING COLE

Daily Dose Of Jazz…

Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama, one of four brothers and a half sister. His brothers Ike and Freddy would follow in his footsteps and pursue careers in music. When he was four years old his family moved to Chicago, Illinois where his father became a Baptist minister and where the young lad learned to play the organ from his mother. His first performance was at age four and he began formal lessons at 12, eventually learning jazz, gospel and Western classical. He went to DuSable High School and studied in the music program under Walter Dyeth.

Sneaking out of the house and to hang around outside the clubs, he listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Noone and Earl Hines, the latter who inspired him. Cole began his performing career in the mid-1930s while still a teenager, adopting the name Nat Cole. His older brother, Eddie, a bass player, joined Cole’s band playing clubs and made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie’s name. They also were regular performers at clubs. He got his nickname, “King”, presumably reinforced by the nursery rhyme “Old King Cole”.

Nat went on to be the pianist in the national tour of Shuffle Along revue about theatre legend Eubie Blake. When it closed in Long Beach, he decided to stay in California. He formed Cole and two other musicians formed the “King Cole Swingsters” that eventual became the King Cole Trio. Their first radio broadcast on NBC’s Blue Network in 1938 led to their Swing Soiree, the Old Gold, Chesterfield Supper Club, Kraft Music Hall and The Orson Welles Almanac.

Cole frequently sang in between instrumental numbers. Noticing that people started to request more vocal numbers, he obliged. There was a customer who requested a certain song one night, but it was a song that Cole did not know, so instead he sang “Sweet Lorraine”. The King Cole Trio signed with the fledgling Capitol Records, known as the “House That Nat Built” in 1943. Revenues from Cole’s record sales fueled much of the label’s success during this period including the construction of the circular building.

Nat would perform in the first Jazz At The Philharmonic, have his revolutionary lineup of piano, guitar, and bass was emulated by many musicians, among them Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Charles Brown and Ray Charles. He played with Lester Young, Red Callender and Lionel Hampton.

Cole’s first mainstream vocal hit was his 1943 recording of one of his compositions, “Straighten Up And Fly Right”, selling over 500,000 copies.

In 1946, the King Cole Trio Time program was on the air, recorded with a string orchestra and his pop stature came with his recording of “The Christmas Song” followed by a string of hits such as Nature Boy, Route 66, Mona Lisa, Too Young and Unforgettable. While this shift to pop music led some jazz critics and fans to accuse Cole of selling out, he never completely abandoned his jazz roots and in 1956 he recorded an all-jazz album After Midnight. He had one of his last major hits in 1963, two years before his death, with “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer”, which reached #6 on the Pop chart.

He would go on to have a variety show on NBC without national sponsorship despite appearances of Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee and Eartha Kitt. He would record Cole Espanol in Havana, Cuba, retool his final Nelson Riddle arranged album Wild Is Love into an Off-Broadway show titled “I’m With You”. Cole performed in many short films, sitcoms, and television shows such as St, Louis Blues, The Blue Gardenia, the Nat King Cole Story and on of his final appearances in Cat Ballou.

Cole was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Alabama Jazz Hall Of Fame, the Down Beat Hall of Fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and has an official U.S. postage stamp in his honor.

Pianist, vocalist, composer and bandleader Nat King Cole, whose baritone voice performed in big band and jazz trio settings passed away on February 15, 1965 of lung cancer. He maintains worldwide popularity.

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