Rio De Gregori was born on September 22, 1919 in Zurich, Switzerland. He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of seven and at fourteen he began buying records by Duke Ellington and other jazz musicians. Although his parents wanted to make him a classical pianist, his interest were leaning towards jazz.
Rio first played with Willie Mac Allen in 1939, then with James Boucher, The Lanigiros, Jo Grandjean and René Weiss during the early to mid Forties. He was with the big band of Fred Böhler until 1945 when he founded his own dance orchestra bringing with him some of the best Swiss jazz musicians, Stuff Combe, Bob Jaquillard, Jean Pierre Dupuis, Luc Hoffmann, Raoul Schmassmann and Kurt Weil. He also featured Glyn Paque as a guest soloist.
He disbanded his big band and worked in a trio setting or as a soloist. Performing in Ascona, Switzerland, he met vocalist Suzanne Doucet and composed and arranged for her. Moving to Munich, Germany De Gregori played under the name Rio Gregory and opened a nightclub.
Because of his harmonious flair De Gregori enjoyed an excellent reputation as a pianist recordings. As an arranger he was commissioned by Fred Böhler and other orchestral conductors. He recorded four albums as a leader over the course of his career. Pianist and vocalist Rio De Gregori passed away on May 22, 1987 in Munich, Germany.
Teddi King was born Theodora King on September 18, 1929 in Boston, Massachusetts. She won a singing competition hosted by Dinah Shore at Boston’s Tributary Theatre and later began performing in a touring revue involved with cheering up the military troops in the lull between the Second World War and the Korean conflict.
Improving her vocal and piano technique during this time, she first recorded with Nat Pierce in 1949, later recorded with the Beryl Booker Trio and three albums with several other small groups recorded between 1954 and 1955 for the Storyville label. She then toured with George Shearing for two years in the summer of 1952, and for a time was managed by George Wein. King went on to perform for a time in Las Vegas.
Teddi landed a contract with RCA and recorded three albums for the label, beginning with 1956’s Bidin’ My Time. She also had some minor chart success with the singles Mr. Wonderful, Married I Can Always Get and Say It Isn’t So. Her critically acclaimed 1959 album All the Kings’ Songs found her interpreting the signature songs of contemporary male singers like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.
In the 1960s, she opened the Playboy Club, where she often performed, however, after developing lupus, she managed to make a brief comeback with a 1977 album featuring Dave McKenna. She recorded two more albums for Audiophile that were released posthumously. She also recorded for the Coral, Inner City and Flare labels as well as having a compilation released on the Baldwin Street Music label. Jazz and pop standard vocalist Teddi King, who was influenced by Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey and Mabel Mercer, passed away from lupus on November 18, 1977.
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Elaine Delmar was born Elaine Hutchinson in Harpenden, Hertfordshireon, England on September 13, 1939 to jazz trumpeter Leslie “Jiver” Hutchinson. Educated at Rhodes Avenue and Trinity Grammar schools inWood Green. She studied piano between the ages of six and eleven, reaching Grade VII of the Associated Board examinations.
She made her first broadcast at the age of thirteen playing piano on the Children’s Hour, aged 13, and later sang with her father’s band at American bases. In 1952/1953, Elaine appeared in Finian’s Rainbow in Liverpool. She sang with Coleridge Goode’s group The Dominoes for a month in Germany in the mid-1950s before going solo.
Delmar performed in clubs and on overseas tours over the next several years and appeared in the Ken Russell film Mahler in 1974. During 2010 she was a featured singer with Wynton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. In 2012 she performed on the P & O Cruise liners, has appeared in several theatrical productions and performs sporadically.
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Teri Thornton was born Shirley Enid Avery on September 1, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. She began performing in the local clubs of her home city in the 1950s. Moving to New York City in the 1960s, where she found work singing for television advertisements, and recorded for several different labels.
By the 1960s Thornton faded from public view and only decades later was discovered to have been singing on various song poem records in Los Angeles, California on the Preview label as Teri Summers. After moving back to New York City in 1983 she was back on the club circuit and in the Nineties fully revived her career. In 1998, she won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington, DC. performing against runners-up Jane Monheit, Tierney Sutton and Roberta Gambarini.
Thornton signed with Verve Records in 2000, releasing I’ll Be Easy to Find, working with Ray Chew, Norman Simmons, Lonnie Plaxico, Jerome Richardson, Dave Bargeron, Howard Johnson and J. T. Lewis.
She was a resident of the Actors’ Fund Home and diagnosed with bladder cancer, vocalist Teri Thornton passed away that same year on May 2, 2000 in Englewood, New Jersey.
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James Andrew Rushing was born on August 26, 1901 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma into a family with musical talent and accomplishments. His father, Andrew, was a trumpeter and his mother, Cora and her brother were singers. He studied music theory with Zelia N. Breaux at Douglass High School, and was unusual among his musical contemporaries, having attended college at Wilberforce University.
Rushing was inspired to pursue music and eventually sing blues by his uncle Wesley Manning and George “Fathead” Thomas of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. Touring the midWest and California as an itinerant blues singer in 1923 and 1924, he eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where he played piano and sang with Jelly Roll Morton. He also sang with Billy King before moving on to Page’s Blue Devils in 1927. He, along with other members of the Blue Devils, defected to the Bennie Moten band in 1929.
When Moten died in 1935 Jimmy joined Count Basie for what would be a 13-year tenure. Due to his tutelage under his mentor Moten, he was a proponent of the Kansas City jump blues tradition as heard in his versions of Sent For You Yesterday and Boogie Woogie for the Count Basie Orchestra. After leaving Basie,, as a solo artist and a singing with other bands.
When the Basie band broke up in 1950 he briefly retired, then formed his own group and his recording career soared. He also made a guest appearance with Duke Ellington for the 1959 album Jazz Party. In 1960, he recorded an album with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, known for their cerebral cool jazz sound. Rushing appeared in the 1957 television special Sound of Jazz, singing one of his signature songs I Left My Baby backed by many of his former Basie band compatriots. In 1958 he was among the musicians included in an Esquire magazine photo by Art Kane, later memorialized in the documentary film A Great Day in Harlem.
In 1958 Jimmy toured the UK with Humphrey Lyttelton and his band, appeared in the 1969 Gordon Parks film The Learning Tree, and by 1971 was diagnosed with leukemia, that sidelined his performing career. On June 8, 1972 vocalist Jimmy Rushing, who was known as a blues shouter, balladeer and swing jazz singer, passed away in New York City. He was one of eight jazz and blues legends honored in a set of United States Postal Service stamps issued in 1994. Among his best known recordings are “Going to Chicago” with Basie, and “Harvard Blues”, with a famous saxophone solo by Don Byas.