Hoagy Carmichael was born Howard Hoagland Carmichael on November 22, 1899 in Bloomington, Indiana. He was named Hoagland after a circus troupe “The Hoaglands” who stayed at the Carmichael house during his mother’s pregnancy. His mother was a versatile pianist who played accompaniment at silent movies and for parties and by age six, he started to sing and play the piano, easily absorbing his mother’s keyboard skills.
Never having formal piano lessons by high school, the piano was the focus of his after-school life, and for inspiration he would listen to ragtime pianists Hank Wells and Hube Hanna. By eighteen he was living in Indianapolis, working in manual jobs in construction, a bicycle chain factory, and a slaughterhouse to help out the family’s income. During this period he befriended the Black bandleader and jazz pianist Reg DuValle, the elder statesman of Indiana and Rhythm King, who taught his jazz improvisation.
Carmichael went on to attend Indiana University and Indiana University School of Law graduating with a bachelor degree and law degree, respectively. He played with Bix Beiderbecke who introduced him to future collaborator, Louis Armstrong.
He began to compose song like Washboard Blues, Boneyard Shuffle and Riverboat Shuffle. In 1927 Hoagy composed and recorded Stardust, one of his most famous songs. His first major song with his own lyrics was Rockin’ Chair recorded by Armstrong and Mildred Bailey. He recorded it himself in 1930 with Beiderbecke, Bubber Miley, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Bud Freeman, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti and Gene Krupa.
He would go on to team up with Johnny Mercer and Frank Loesser, composing Georgia On My Mind, Up A Lazy River, In The Still Of The Night, Skylark, I Get Along Without You Very Well, The Nearness Of You and Baltimore Oriole among some many other jazz standards.
With his financial and social condition improved dramatically he began hobnobbing with George Gershwin, Fred Astaire, Duke Ellington and other music giants in the New York scene. He appeared in fourteen films, always performing one of his songs, appeared in numerous television roles, hosted musical variety radio and television programs, received Academy Awards for Best Original Song, was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Indiana University, inducted into the Gennett Records Walk of Fame, recorded with Annie Ross and Georgie Fame, and penned two autobiographies.
Composer, pianist, singer, songwriter and actor, Hoagy Carmichael, passed away of heart failure in Rancho Mirage, California on December 27, 1981.
Born Mary Louise Tobin on November 14, 1918 in Aubrey, Texas and at age fourteen in 1932 she won a CBS Radio Talent Contest. Following a tour with society dance orchestras in Texas, she joined Art Hicks and his Orchestra in 1934. At that time, Harry James was playing first trumpet in the band and a year later she and James were married.
Tobin brought Frank Sinatra to James’ attention in 1939 after hearing him sing on the radio. James subsequently signed Sinatra to a one-year contract at $75 a week. While she was singing with trumpeter Bobby Hackett at Nick’s in the Village, jazz critic and producer John Hammond heard her and brought Benny Goodman to a performance and soon joined the Goodman band.
Louise went on to record There’ll Be Some Changes Made, Scatterbrain, Comes Love, Love Never Went To College, What’s New? and Blue Orchids. Johnny Mercer wrote Louise Tobin Blues for her while she was with Goodman and was arranged by Fletcher Henderson. In 1940 Tobin recorded Deed I Do and Don’t Let It Get You Down with Will Bradley and His Orchestra.
By 1945 Tobin was recording with Tommy Jones and His Orchestra, Emil Coleman and His Orchestra and through the decade performed and recorded with Skippy Anderson’s Band at the Melodee Club in Los Angeles, and with Ziggy Elman and His Orchestra.
Taking a long hiatus to raise her children, Louise came back in 1962 at the Newport Jazz Festival, met second husband Peanuts Hucko, acquired a regular gig at Blues Alley on Washington, DC and moved to Denver, Colorado and opened the Navarre Club as co-owners. They would go on to lead and sing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, touring worldwide with Louise singing and recording various numbers with the band.
In 2008 Tobin donated her extensive collection of original musical arrangements, press clippings, programs, recordings, playbills and photographs to create the Tobin-Hucko Jazz Collection at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
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Marlene Ver Planck was born Marlene Paula Pampinella on November 11, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey. She grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald on the radio and started singing at age 19., working with Tex Beneke and Charlie Spivak in the Fifties, the latter band is where she met her husband, composer, arranger and conductor Billy Ver Planck.
Her first big break came in 1955 at the age of 21 when she teamed up with pianist Hank Jones, flutist Herbie Mann, trumpeter Joe Wilder, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Kenny Clarke and recorded I Think Of You With Every Breath I Take for Savoy Records. Singing went on to sing with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in New York City and after Tommy’s death pursued studio work with Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Blood Sweat & Tears and Kiss.
Marlene’s voice was recognizable by millions of people outside the jazz world doing jingles in the ’60s: “Weekends were made for Michelob… Yeah!”, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should!” and “Mmm good, mm-mm good, that’s what Campbell’s Soups are/mm mm good.” After thousands of commercial jingles and hours and hours of studio session work in New York, she decided to settle down with her husband in their house in Clifton, New Jersey and began performing and recording together.
They would go on to work with composer Loonis McGlohon, Alec Wilder, Mel Torme, Eileen Farrell, Glenn Miller Orchestra, George Shearing and Marian McPartland among others. Over the course of her career she recorded two-dozen albums and appeared on several television shows.
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Patricia Barber was born on November 8, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois to professional musician parents and raised in South Sioux City, Iowa. She began playing classical piano at age six and by the time she graduated high school jazz was completely in her blood.
She enrolled in the University of Iowa with a double major of classical music and psychology but the jazz voice in her head grew louder. In 1984 she returned to Chicago and landed a five night week gig at the Gold Star Sandine Bar and since the mid-90s performs regularly at the Green Mill.
Starting her professional career as a pianist, as Barber’s stock rose, she then began to add vocals to her repertoire, centered in a fairly low register and a traditional blues-jazz style. Mixing original compositions and standards with classic rock covers, she has recorded and released a dozen compact discs, including a three CD box set covering her 1994-2007 years. She has released a classic Cole Porter collection of his songbook in her unique way of interpretation.
Vocalist, pianist and songwriter Patricia Barber has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and teaches master classes worldwide in between her performing, touring and recording.
Kitty Margolis was born November 7, 1955 in San Mateo, California. As a child she listened to underground radio to hear the sounds of Ramsey Lewis, Beach Boys, John Lee Hooker and Santana, and Tower of Power was a local band playing at her high school dances. She would go to the Fillmore and Winterland and hear Miles Davis, Grateful Dead, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Charles Lloyd to name a few. But an outing with her uncle to the Village Vanguard and it was a Rahsaan Roland Kirk performance that changed her life.
She went on to San Francisco State and studied jazz and recording studio arts and was soon gigging with her teachers John Handy and Hal Stein. Hanging out at Todd Barkan’s Keystone Korner she met all the heavyweights, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Flora Purim, Airto, Horace Silver, Red Garland and many more. She even had the oppoertunity to sing Charlie Parker’s solo on Billie’s Bounce and got thumbs up from her idol Eddie Jefferson. In 1989, she made her well-received debut at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival.
She released her debut studio album Evolution in 1993 and with guest performers Joe Henderson and Joe Louis Walker made a name for herself in the jazz community. On the heels of this album release Kitty won honor of Talent Deserving Wider Recognition in that year’s Down Beat critics’ poll, which she would repeat in 1995 and 1997. Her sophomore album, 1997’s Straight Up With a Twist, was her most eclectic outing yet, featuring quirky interpretations of standards, plus guest appearances by Roy Hargrove and Charles Brown.
Recording in between continuous performance and touring vocalist and record producer Kitty Margolis has taken time to co-found her own record label Mad Kat with Madeline Eastman. She has subsequently released five albums with a couple of live dates in San Francisco among them.
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