The music for the now classic jazz standard Emily, was composed by Johnny Mandel and the lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer. It was the soundtrack for the 1964 comedy-drama war film The Americanization of Emily. Paddy Chayefsky wrote the screenplay, directed by Arthur Hiller and starred James Garner, Julie Andrews, James Coburn, Melvyn Douglas and Keenan Wynn
The Story: Set in World War II London during the build-up to D-Day in 1944, the British found their island hosting many thousands of American soldiers who were oversexed, overpaid, and over here. Enter cynical coward Charlie Madison (Garner) who knows all the angles to make life as smooth and risk-free as possible for himself. But things become complicated when he falls for an English woman (Andrews), and his commanding officer’s nervous breakdown leads to Charlie being sent on a senseless and dangerous mission.
Lisa Sokolov was born on September 24, 1954 in Manhasset, Long Island and raised in nearby Roslyn, New York. She was exposed to jazz as a child through her father, who played stride piano and listened to recordings of jazz artists including Art Tatum, Mabel Mercer and Stan Getz. She began singing from a young age and soon took up piano, which she studied for many years.
1972 saw Sokolov attending Bennington College in Vermont and studying with Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, Jimmy Lyons, voice teacher Frank Baker, and composers Vivian Fine and Louis Calabro. While there she was exposed to Betty Carter and Meredith Monk who have influenced her style. Obtaining a double major in music/back music, she became interested in free jazz as well as avant-garde jazz, both of which she has incorporated into her vocal style.
After graduation Lisa moved to New York City in 1976, spent several months in Paris, France, returned to pursue graduate work in music therapy, met Jeanne Lee and was subsequently introduced to bassist William Parker and a decade long collaboration was begun.
She was part of the Studio Henry scene, a cooperative performance space, alongsideJohn Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Elliot Sharpe and David Sewelson. The 1990s saw Sokolov recording music and releasing her debut as a leader, angel Rodeo, followed by her second release six years later in 1999 titled Lazy Afternoon. She has since released five more albums.
As an educator Sokolov has worked as a music therapist, has taught in NYU’s graduate music department and is currently a full arts professor at the Experimental Theater Wing at the Tisch School of the Arts, which is part of New York University, and is recognized in the music therapy world as a pioneer and innovator in the applications of the voice to human potential.
She has worked with Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Robin Holcomb, Rahn Burton, Rashid Ali, Bada Roy, Jeanne Lee, Jimmy Lyons, Wayne Hovitz, Hilton Ruiz, Irene Schweizer, Butch Morris, Blue Gene Tyranny, Jim Mc Neely, Gerry Hemingway and Cameron Brown to name a few. A courageous and adventurous vocalist, Lisa Sokolov continued to sing, compose and perform.
Henry Butler was born September 21, 1949 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Blinded by glaucoma in infancy and his musical training began at the Louisiana State School for the Blind, where he learned to play valve trombone, baritone horn and drums before focusing his talents on singing and piano,
Butler was mentored at Southern University in Baton Rouge by clarinetist and educator Alvin Batiste. He later earned a master’s degree in music at Michigan State University in 1974, receiving the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.
Due to the devastation of his home and his vintage 1925 Mason & Hamlin piano by Hurricane Katrina, Henry moved to first Boulder then Denver, Colorado but by 2009 he relocated to New York City. He has pursued photography as a hobby since 1984,and his methods and photos are featured in a 2010 HBO2 documentary, Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers, that aired. His photographs also have been shown in galleries in New Orleans.
Pianist Henry Butler has recorded and released nine albums as a leader for Impulse, Windham Hill and Basin Street Records and as a sideman with James Carter and Corey Harris. He joins the lineage of Crescent City pianists like Professor Longhair, James Booker, Tuts Washington and Jelly Roll Morton. He continues to perform and record in a variety of styles of music.
Jackie Paris was born Carlo Jackie Paris on September 20, 1924 in Nutley, New Jersey. His uncle Chick had been a guitarist with Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. A very popular child entertainer in vaudeville, the pint-sized song and dance man shared the stage with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and the Mills Brothers.
After serving in the Army during World War II, Paris was inspired by his friend Nat King Cole to put together a trio featuring himself on guitar and vocals. The Jackie Paris Trio was a hit at the Onyx Club, playing for an unprecedented 26 weeks, perhaps the longest-running residency in the history of Swing Street.
The first song that Jackie’s trio recorded was Hoagy Carmichael’s Skylark for MGM Records in 1947. In 1949, he was the first white vocalist to tour with the Lionel Hampton for a 78 one-night tour. Coming off the road, he received an offer to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra, but at that time was too exhausted to take it.
Paris was the first singer to record Thelonious Monk’s future jazz anthem Round Midnight, which was produced by Leonard Feather and featured a young Dick Hyman on piano with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Tommy Potter. He was the only vocalist to ever tour as a regular member of the Charlie Parker Quintet but unfortunately no recordings exist of the Parker-Paris combo.
In 1953, Jackie was named Best New Male Vocalist of the Year in the first ever Down Beat Critics Poll. Ella Fitzgerald won the female category and repeatedly named Paris as one of her favorites as well as Charles Mingus, who enlisted the talented vocalist on several projects and club dates over many decades. He shared the bill with comic Lenny Bruce and recorded with Hank Jones, Charlie Shavers, Joe Wilder, Wynton Kelly, Eddie Costa, Coleman Hawkins, Bobby Scott, Max Roach, Lee Konitz, Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce, Ralph Burns, Tony Scott, Neal Hefti, Terry Gibbs, Johnny Mandel and Oscar Pettiford and the list continues.
He recorded consistently through the years, from the 1940s and in 2001, he played to a standing room crow and to a standing ovation at Birdland. He was virtually the only performer to have appeared at every incarnation of the famed nightspot, from the 1950s to the present. Jackie Paris passed away on June 17, 2004 in New York City.
Helen Ward was born September 19, 1913 in New York City and her father had taught her piano and she appeared on WOR and WNYC radio broadcasts. She also worked as a staff musician at WNYC.
Starting in 1934, she sang in Benny Goodman’s first band and became one of the first popular swing “girl singers”, as they were then called, and among Goodman’s most popular. She and Benny had a brief romance and he came very close to proposing marriage to her in either 1935 or 1936. However, according to Ward in the documentary, Adventures in the Kingdom of Swing, he called it off at the last minute, citing his career. She married financier Albert Marx the following year and left the band.
In 1938, Marx arranged for Goodman’s Carnegie concert to be recorded for her as an anniversary present and released by Columbia more than a decade later. During the 1940s, Helen worked with the bands of Hal McIntyre and Harry James and became a radio show producer for WMGM in 1946-1947.
After her marriage to Marx ended, Ward later married the audio engineer William Savory, who was part of the team that invented the 33⅓ rpm long playing record. She continued to do sporadic studio work, sang briefly with clarinetist and big band leader Peanuts Hucko, and did occasional tours with Goodman in the 1950s, but effectively retired by 1960. She made a brief return in the late 1970s singing in New York City clubs in 1979. In 1981, she released her final album, The Helen Ward Song Book Vol. I.
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