Eartha Kitt would have been 86 years old today. Above, she sings I Want to Be Evil, in a video that has one odd camera angle after another. Here is more on the sultry singer.
Like so many folks who had stellar careers and have been around forever, Tony Bennett’s early story is filled with familiar names:
The young singer was discovered by Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and subsequently hired by Bob Hope in 1949. Hope advised him to take the name Tony Bennett (rather than the name he had been using, Joe Bari) and put him in his road show. Bennett told Billboard in 1997, “I’ve been on the road ever since.” He signed with Columbia Records in 1950 and started working with record producer Mitch Miller. His early hits included “Rags To Riches,” “Because of You,” and “Stranger in Paradise.” His most famous song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was released in 1962 as a B-side on a single; it also earned Bennett his first Grammy award. (Continue Reading…)
Doing a post about Bennett without using I Left My Heart in San Francisco probably breaks some sort of law. It’s above. Bennett loves duets. An early and absolutely terrific one, with Andy Williams, is below. They sing The Gypsy in Me; My Kind of Town (Chicago is); San Francisco and I Left My Heart in San Francisco.
A funny bit of banter: Williams hears the first notes of Bennett’s signature song and says, “I know where we’re going…up north by the big bridge.” Bennett’s reply: “Where all the residuals are.”
Bennett’s site is here.
Jazz players and fans spoke about Art Tatum with the same awe that Hendrix or Clapton would elicit decades later. The feeling is best conveyed by quotes such as these at Wikipedia:
Numerous stories exist about other musicians’ respect for Tatum. Perhaps the most famous is the story about the time Tatum walked into a club where Fats Waller was playing, and Waller stepped away from the piano bench to make way for Tatum, announcing, “I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house.” Fats Waller’s son confirmed the statement.
The jazz pianist and educator Kenny Barron commented, “I have every record [Tatum] ever made — and I try never to listen to them … If I did, I’d throw up my hands and give up!”Jean Cocteau dubbed Tatum “a crazed Chopin.” Count Basie called him the eighth wonder of the world. Dave Brubeck observed, “I don’t think there’s any more chance of another Tatum turning up than another Mozart.”Pianist Mulgrew Miller, a noted fan of Tatum, commented on personal growth by saying, “When I talk to the people I admire, they’re always talking about continuous growth and development and I look at them and say, ‘Well…what are YOU going to do?’ But, as Harold Mabern says, ‘There’s always Art Tatum records around’”.Dizzy Gillespie said, “First you speak of Art Tatum, then take a long deep breath, and you speak of the other pianists.”
Tatum, the entry says, often played alone simply because few instrumentalists could keep up. Above is Humoresque by Antonin Dvorak. Other Tatum performances include Yesterdays and Tea for Two. Here is a bio.