March 28, 2010

Mingus In A Dream Deferred

One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. Born on a military base in Nogales, Arizona in 1922 and raised in Watts, California, his earliest musical influences came from the church-- choir and group singing-- and from "hearing Duke Ellington over the radio when [he] was eight years old." He studied double bass and composition in a formal way (five years with H. Rheinshagen, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic, and compositional techniques with the legendary Lloyd Reese) while absorbing vernacular music from the great jazz masters, first-hand. His early professional experience, in the 40's, found him touring with bands like Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton.

Eventually he settled in New York where he played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950's-- Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington himself. One of the few bassists to do so, Mingus quickly developed as a leader of musicians. He was also an accomplished pianist who could have made a career playing that instrument. By the mid-50's he had formed his own publishing and recording companies to protect and document his growing repertoire of original music. He also founded the "Jazz Workshop," a group which enabled young composers to have their new works performed in concert and on recordings.

Mingus soon found himself at the forefront of the avant-garde. His recordings bear witness to the extraordinarily creative body of work that followed. They include: Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Clown, Tijuana Moods, Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Ah Um, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, Let My Children Hear Music. He recorded over a hundred albums and wrote over three hundred scores.

Although he wrote his first concert piece, "Half-Mast Inhibition," when he was seventeen years old, it was not recorded until twenty years later by a 22-piece orchestra with Gunther Schuller conducting. It was the presentation of "Revelations" which combined jazz and classical idioms, at the 1955 Brandeis Festival of the Creative Arts, that established him as one of the foremost jazz composers of his day.

In 1971 Mingus was awarded the Slee Chair of Music and spent a semester teaching composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In the same year his autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, was published by Knopf. In 1972 it appeared in a Bantam paperback and was reissued after his death, in 1980, by Viking/Penguin and again by Pantheon Books, in 1991. In 1972 he also re-signed with Columbia Records. His music was performed frequently by ballet companies, and Alvin Ailey choreographed an hour program called "The Mingus Dances" during a 1972 collaboration with the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company.

He toured extensively throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States until the end of 1977 when he was diagnosed as having a rare nerve disease, Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis. He was confined to a wheelchair, and although he was no longer able to write music on paper or compose at the piano, his last works were sung into a tape recorder.

From the 1960's until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music. When asked to comment on his accomplishments, Mingus said that his abilities as a bassist were the result of hard work but that his talent for composition came from God.

Mingus received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation (two grants). He also received an honorary degree from Brandeis and an award from Yale University. At a memorial following Mingus' death, Steve Schlesinger of the Guggenheim Foundation commented that Mingus was one of the few artists who received two grants and added: "I look forward to the day when we can transcend labels like jazz and acknowledge Charles Mingus as the major American composer that he is." The New Yorker wrote: "For sheer melodic and rhythmic and structural originality, his compositions may equal anything written in western music in the twentieth century."

He died in Mexico on January 5, 1979, and his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River in India. Both New York City and Washington, D.C. honored him posthumously with a "Charles Mingus Day."

After his death, the National Endowment for the Arts provided grants for a Mingus foundation called "Let My Children Hear Music" which catalogued all of Mingus' works. The microfilms of these works were then given to the Music Division of the New York Public Library where they are currently available for study and scholarship - a first for jazz. Repertory bands called the Mingus Dynasty, Mingus Orchestra and the Mingus Big Band continue to perform his music. Biographies of Charles Mingus include Mingus by Brian Priestley; Mingus/Mingus by Janet Coleman and Al Young and Myself When I Am Real, by Gene Santoro.

Mingus' masterwork, "Epitaph," a composition which is more than 4000 measures long and which requires two hours to perform, was discovered during the cataloguing process. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the piece itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller, in a concert produced by Sue Mingus at Alice Tully Hall on June 3, 1989, ten years after Mingus' death.

The New Yorker wrote that "Epitaph" represents the first advance in jazz composition since Duke Ellington's "Black, Brown, and Beige," which was written in 1943. The New York Times said it ranked with the "most memorable jazz events of the decade." Convinced that it would never be performed in his lifetime, Mingus called his work "Epitaph," declaring that he wrote it "for my tombstone."

The Library of Congress was presented with the Charles Mingus Collection in 1993, including autographed manuscripts, photographs, literary manuscripts, correspondence, and tape recordings of interviews, broadcasts, recording sessions, and Mingus composing at the piano.

To visit Charles Mingus` website CLICK HERE

Poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, autobiographer, and writer of children's books, James Mercer Langston Hughes, was born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. Langston Hughes grew up mainly in Lawrence, Kansas, but also lived in Illinois, Ohio, and Mexico.

By the time Hughes enrolled at Columbia University in New York, he had already launched his literary career with his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in the Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois. He had also committed himself both to writing and to writing mainly about African Americans.

Hughes's sense of dedication was instilled in him most of all by his maternal grandmother, Mary Langston, whose first husband had died at Harpers Ferry as a member of John Brown’s band, and whose second husband (Hughes's grandfather) had also been a militant abolitionist. Another important family figure was John Mercer Langston, a brother of Hughes's grandfather who was one of the best-known black Americans of the nineteenth century. At the same time, Hughes struggled with a sense of desolation fostered by parental neglect. He himself recalled being driven early by his loneliness “to books, and the wonderful world in books.”

Leaving Columbia in 1922, Hughes spent the next three years in a succession of menial jobs. But he also traveled abroad. He worked on a freighter down the west coast of Africa and lived for several months in Paris before returning to the United States late in 1924. By this time, he was well known in African American literary circles as a gifted young poet.

His major early influences were Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, as well as the black poets Paul Laurence Dunbar, a master of both dialect and standard verse, and Claude McKay, a radical socialist who also wrote accomplished lyric poetry. However, Sandburg, who Hughes later called “my guiding star,” was decisive in leading him toward free verse and a radically democratic modernist aesthetic.

His devotion to black music led him to novel fusions of jazz and blues with traditional verse in his first two books, The Weary Blues (1926) and Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927). His emphasis on lower-class black life, especially in the latter, led to harsh attacks on him in the black press. With these books, however, he established himself as a major force of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1926, in the Nation, he provided the movement with a manifesto when he skillfully argued the need for both race pride and artistic independence in his most memorable essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.”

By this time, Hughes had enrolled at the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, from which he would graduate in 1929. In 1927 he began one of the most important relationships of his life, with his patron Mrs. Charlotte Mason, or “Godmother,” who generously supported him for two years. She supervised the writing of his first novel, Not Without Laughter (1930), about a sensitive, black Midwestern boy and his struggling family. However, their relationship collapsed about the time the novel appeared, and Hughes sank into a period of intense personal unhappiness and disillusionment.

One result was his firm turns to the far left in politics. During a year (1932–1933) spent in the Soviet Union, he wrote his most radical verse. A year in Carmel, California, led to a collection of short stories, The Ways of White Folks (1934). This volume is marked by pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism.

After his play Mulatto, on the twinned themes of miscegenation and parental rejection, opened on Broadway in 1935, Hughes wrote other plays, including comedies such as Little Ham (1936) and a historical drama, Emperor of Haiti (1936). Most of these plays were only moderate successes. In 1937 he spent several months in Europe, including a long stay in besieged Madrid. In 1938 he returned home to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater, which staged his agitprop drama “Don’t You Want to Be Free?” The play, employing several of his poems, vigorously blended Black Nationalist, the blues, and socialist exhortation. The same year, a socialist organization published a pamphlet of his radical verse, “A New Song.”

With World War II, Hughes moved more to the center politically. His first volume of autobiography, The Big Sea (1940), written in an episodic, lightly comic manner, made virtually no mention of his leftist sympathies. In his book of verse Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) he once again sang the blues. On the other hand, this collection, as well as another, his Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943), strongly attacked racial segregation.

Perhaps his finest literary achievement during the war came in the course of writing a weekly column in the Chicago Defender that began in 1942 and lasted twenty years. The highlight of the column was an offbeat Harlem character called Jesse B. Semple, or Simple, and his exchanges with a staid narrator in a neighborhood bar, where Simple commented on a variety of matters but mainly about race and racism. Simple became Hughes's most celebrated and beloved fictional creation, and the subject of five collections edited by Hughes, starting in 1950 with Simple Speaks His Mind.

After the war, two books of verse, Fields of Wonder (1947) and One-Way Ticket (1949), added little to his fame. However, in Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951) he broke new ground with verse accented by the discordant nature of the new bebop jazz that reflected a growing desperation in the black urban communities of the North. At the same time, Hughes's career was vexed by constant harassment by right-wing forces about his ties to the Left. In vain he protested that he had never been a Communist and had severed all such links. In 1953 he suffered a public humiliation at the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who forced him to appear in Washington, D.C., and testify officially about his politics. Hughes denied that he had ever been a party member but conceded that some of his radical verse had been ill-advised.

Hughes's career hardly suffered from this episode. Within a short time McCarthy himself was discredited and Hughes was free to write at length about his year in the Soviet Union in I Wonder as I Wander (1956), his much-admired second volume of autobiography. He became prosperous, although he always had to work hard for his measure of prosperity and sometimes called himself, with good cause, a “literary sharecropper.”

In the 1950s he constantly looked to the musical stage for success, as he sought to repeat his major coup of the 1940s, when Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice had chosen him as the lyricist for their Street Scene (1947). This production was hailed as a breakthrough in the development of American opera; for Hughes, the apparently endless cycle of poverty into which he had been locked came to an end. He bought a home in Harlem.

The Simple books inspired a musical show, Simply Heavenly (1957), that met with some success. However, Hughes's Tambourines to Glory (1963), a gospel musical play satirizing corruption in a black storefront church, failed badly, with some critics accusing him of creating caricatures of black life. Nevertheless, his love of gospel music led to other acclaimed stage efforts, usually mixing words, music, and dance in an atmosphere of improvisation. Notable here were the Christmas show Black Nativity (1961) and, inspired by the civil rights movement, Jericho–Jim Crow (1964).

For Hughes, writing for children was important. Starting with the successful Popo and Fifina (1932), a tale set in Haiti and written with Arna Bontemps, he eventually published a dozen children's books, on subjects such as jazz, Africa, and the West Indies. Proud of his versatility, he also wrote a commissioned history of the NAACP and the text of a much praised pictorial history of black America. His text in The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), where he explicated photographs of Harlem by Roy DeCarava, was judged masterful by reviewers, and confirmed Hughes's reputation for an unrivaled command of the nuances of black urban culture.

The 1960s saw Hughes as productive as ever. In 1962 his ambitious book length poem Ask Your Mama, dense with allusions to black culture and music, appeared. However, the reviews were dismissive. Hughes's work was not as universally acclaimed as before in the black community. Although he was hailed in 1966 as a historic artistic figure at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, he also found himself increasingly rejected by young black militants at home as the civil rights movement lurched toward Black Power. His last book was the volume of verse, posthumously published, The Panther and the Lash (1967), mainly about civil rights. He died in May that year in New York City.

In many ways Hughes always remained loyal to the principles he had laid down for the younger black writers in 1926. His art was firmly rooted in race pride and race feeling even as he cherished his freedom as an artist. He was both nationalist and cosmopolitan. As a radical democrat, he believed that art should be accessible to as many people as possible. He could sometimes be bitter, but his art is generally suffused by a keen sense of the ideal and by a profound love of humanity, especially black Americans. He was perhaps the most original of African American poets and, in the breadth and variety of his work, assuredly the most representative of African American writers.

March 14, 2010


Erroll Louis Garner was born June 15, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Erroll began playing piano at the age of 3. He attended George Westinghouse High School, as did fellow pianists Billy Strayhorn and Ahmad Jamal. Garner was self-taught and remained an "ear player" all his life - he never learned to read music. At the age of 7, Garner began appearing on radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids. By the age of 11, he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats. At age 14 in 1937 he joined local saxophonist Leroy Brown. He played locally in the shadow of his older pianist brother Linton Garner and moved to New York in 1944. He briefly worked with the bassist Slam Stewart, and though not a bebop musician per se, in 1947 played with Charlie Parker on the famous "Cool Blues" session. Although his admission to the Pittsburgh music union was initially refused because of his inability to read music, they eventually relented in 1956 and made him an honorary member.

Garner is credited with having a superb memory of music. After attending a concert by the Russian pianist Emil Gilels, Garner returned to his apartment and was able to play a large portion of the performed music by recall. Short in stature (5 foot 2 inches), Garner performed sitting on multiple telephone directories, except when playing in New York City, where a Manhattan phone book was sufficient.

He was also known for his occasional vocalizations while playing, which can be heard on many of his recordings. He helped to bridge the gap for jazz musicians between nightclubs and the concert hall. Until his death on January 2, 1977, he made many tours both at home and abroad, and produced a large volume of recorded work. Garner is buried in Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery. He was, reportedly, "The Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson's favorite jazz musician; Garner appeared on Carson's show many times over the years. Called "one of the most distinctive of all pianists" by, Garner showed that a "creative jazz musician can be very popular without watering down his music" or changing his personal style. He is referred to as a "brilliant virtuoso who sounded unlike anyone else" ,using an "orchestral approach straight from the swing era but to the innovations of bop." Garner's ear and technique owed as much to practice as to a natural gift. His distinctive style could swing like no other, but some of his best recordings are ballads, such as his best-known composition, "Misty". "Misty" rapidly became a jazz standard - and was famously featured in Clint Eastwood's Play Misty for Me (1971).

Garner may have been inspired by the example of Earl Hines, a fellow Pittsburgh resident but 18 years his senior, and there were resemblances in their elastic approach to timing and the use of the right-hand octaves. As it is especially shown by Garner's early recordings, another clear influence on him was the stride piano style of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Erroll's definitive style however, was unique and had neither obvious forerunners nor competent imitators although, at an amateur level, more players attempted to imitate him than any other pianist in jazz history. A key factor in his sound was the independence of his hands. Garner would often play behind or ahead of the beat with his right hand while his springy left had rocked steady, creating insouciance and tension in the music, which he would resolve by bringing the timing back into sync. The independence of his hands also was evidenced by his masterful use of three against four figures and more complicated cross rhythms between the hands. He also would play introductions to pieces that sometimes utilized cacophonous or just weird sounds unrelated to the number, but which produced a sense of excitement in the audience not knowing what he was up to.

Whether in ultra slow ballads or rollicking up-tempo improvisation, this never failed to convey a humorous and titillating attitude to both the material at hand and the audience. His recording career started out in the late 1940s when several 7" EP records were made with tracks such as "Fine and Dandy" and "Sweet 'n' lovely". However, his 1955 recording, Concert by the Sea, ranks among his most popular work and features Eddie Calhoun on bass and Denzil Best on drums. Ironically this recording of a performance at an army base in Carmel, California, was made using relatively primitive sound equipment, but Garner's inventiveness and swing made its point in each tune. Other notable works include 1951's Long Ago and Far Away and 1974's Magician, both of which see Garner perform a number of classic standards in his own style. Often the trio was expanded to add Latin percussion, usually a conga, with electric results.

What makes Garner's playing easy to recognize is his trademark introductions, which seem to make no sense until breaking dramatically into his exposition of the tune he will play, and the guitar strumming sound of his left hand, playing crotchet accompaniment to his rich sounding right hand. He places his chords and octaves on syncopated beats that swing very hard and can be used to build excellent tension, such as between phrases. The approach also suggests he was influenced by the iconic rhythm guitar work of Count Basie's long time guitarist, Freddie Green. But discerning listeners could find that while his even four left hand was a fixture, it was far from being the only rhythmic approach he took to playing.

Erroll Garner crossed over on January 2, 1977

To visit Erroll Garner's website CLICK HERE

March 04, 2010


Lou’s voice is as distinctive and instantly recognizable as any in music. It all began on December 1, 1933, in Chicago with the birth of a boy, who would become the legendary Lou Rawls. From Lou’s early days in gospel, his collaborations with Sam Cooke, “The Dick Clark Show” at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959, the opening for The Beatles in 1966 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, his monologues in the 1970s that presaged rap music to becoming a “crossover” artist before the term was invented, there has been one constant in Lou Rawls’ career––a voice that one critic proclaimed was “sweet as sugar, soft as velvet, strong as steel, smooth as butter.”

Lou’s 52 years in entertainment as a recording artist, included an astonishing 60-plus albums, three Grammy wins, 13 Grammy nominations, one platinum album, five gold albums and a gold single and a Star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame. Lou has epitomized the ultimate song stylist. "I've gone the full spectrum--from gospel to blues to jazz to soul to pop--and the public has accepted what I've done through it all. I think it means I've been doing something right at the right time."

Not surprisingly, Lou began his career singing gospel. He was raised on the South Side of Chicago by his grandmother and became a member of his Baptist church choir when his was seven-years-old. As a teenager, Lou's horizons expanded with trips to The Regal Theatre to see Billy Eckstine, Arthur Prysock and Joe Williams. "I loved the way they could lift the spirit of the audience," Lou often stated. Influenced, as well, by doo-wop, Lou would harmonize with high school classmate Cooke and together they joined groups including The Teenage Kings Of Harmony.

In the Fifties Lou ventured to Los Angeles and was recruited for The Chosen Gospel Singers, with whom he was first heard on record. Lou later joined The Pilgrim Travelers before enlisting in 1955 as a paratrooper in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, The All Americans. Three years later, Sergeant Rawls left the service and rejoined The Travelers.
It was during a tour of the South with Cooke and The Travelers that a serious car accident nearly ended his career and his life. One passenger was killed, Cooke was slightly injured and Rawls was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. Alhough he slipped into a coma for five-and-a-half days, suffered memory loss and didn't completely recovered for a year, Lou survived. "I really got a new life out of that," Lou said. "I saw a lot of reasons to live. I began to learn acceptance, direction, understanding and perception--all elements that had been sadly lacking in my life. I might have lived long enough to learn all this in the long haul, but I would have been just another soul taking up time and space for a long spell before I learned."

Playing small R&B, pop and soul clubs in Los Angeles, Rawls was performing at Pandora's Box Coffee Shop for $10 a night plus pizza in late 1959 when Nick Venet, a producer at Capitol, was so impressed with Lou's four-octave range that he invited Lou to make an audition tape. Lou did and was signed to Capitol. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water, his 1962 solo debut album, became the first of more than 20 albums on that label in only a decade. It was Love Is A Hurtin' Thing in 1966 which shot Rawls to the top. The album was nominated for two Grammy awards: Best R&B Recording and Best R&B Solo Vocal Performance.
During this period, Lou began his hip monologues about life and love on "World of Trouble" and "Tobacco Road," each more than seven minutes long. Called "pre-rap" by some, for Rawls they grew out of necessity."I was working in little joints where the stage would be behind the bar. So you were standing right over the cash register and the crushed ice machine. You'd be swinging and the waitress would yell, 'I want 12 beers and four martinis!' And then the dude would put the ice in the crusher. There had to be a way to get the attention of the people. So instead of just starting in singing, I would just start in talking the song." His "raps" were so popular that 1967's "Dead End Street" won him his first Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

In 1971 Lou's popularity could be measured by the fact that he won the Downbeat magazine poll for favorite male vocalist, besting perennial champ Frank Sinatra, who has praised Rawls for having "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game." The 1970s began with a second Grammy win for Natural Man. But, then came disco and Rawls, a symbol of quality and a relevance that transcended trendiness, balked. "A lyric has to mean something to me, something that has happened to me. I try to look for songs people can relate to because I know the man on the corner waiting for the bus has to hear it and say, 'Yeah that's right.'"

In 1975 while other artists succumbed to the beat, Lou moved to Philadelphia International, the Mecca of producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and their renowned Philly sound. His integrity was rewarded the next year when "You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine)" became Lou's biggest hit. The next year he took home his third Grammy, Best R&B Vocal Performance, for Unmistakably Lou.
In 1976 Lou became the corporate spokesman for Anheuser Busch, the world's largest brewery, which led in 1980 to that company's sponsorship of two events which have continued to this day. One was a series of concerts for American military personnel on bases around the world. The other was The Annual Lou Rawls Parade of Stars telethon to benefit the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). “An Evening of Stars” continues today as the longest running fundraising telethon. Although Lou did not attend college, he recognized the importance of higher education. Through Lou’s tireless efforts, the telethon has raised more than $200 million and has helped more than 65,000 students obtain higher education.

Epitomizing cool, class and soul, Lou's humanitarian efforts have won him more than honors, more even than a street named after him in Chicago, where South Wentworth Avenue is now Lou Rawls Drive. His work for the UNCF has been the joy of a man who never went to college but has since been awarded numerous honorary doctorates. "I remember a woman came up to me once and said, "Thank you. You made my grandson the first college grad in our family." "That makes it all worth it," Lou concluded.

In addition to singing, Rawls' talents extend to acting, a second love. Over the years he has appeared as a series regular, guest star and host in television series as well as television and theatrical movies. In the recent years Lou ventured in to the feature film arena, taking on lead roles in independent films as well as smaller parts in movies such as Oscar winning Leaving Las Vegas and Blues Brothers 2000. In 1999 Rawls appeared on Broadway for a stint in Smokey Joe's Cafe. Lou also brought his flair to children's programming, becoming the singing voice of the animated feline Garfield. In 1982, he was Grammy-nominated for Best Recording for Children for Here Comes Garfield and is the musical star of the "Garfield" TV specials. More recently, Lou sang the title song for "Jungle Cubs," an animated series. He is also the voice of the Harvey the Mailman on Nickelodeon's "Hey Arnold" series and the grandfather on Bill Cosby’s animated series, “Fatherhood.”

In 1998 Rawls released Seasons 4 U on his own newly created record label, Rawls & Brokaw Records. He also put together two CDs, The Best of Lou Rawls: Volume 1 and The Best of Lou Rawls: Volume 2 on the label. In 2001 Lou released a long awaited gospel CD entitled I'm Blessed on Malaco Records. In 2003 he release the critically accaimed Rawls Sings Sinatra CD on Savoy Records. As always, Lou’s fans motivated him to continue to travel extensively from clubs to jazz festivals, from America to Europe to Asia until one month prior to his death on January 6, 2006. Sinatra once said about the two of them that they were saloon singers--voices that's all, reaching into hearts and souls. Throughout the years, Rawls has stayed true to his voice. "People may not know what I'm doing," Lou said of his changing styles, "but they know it's me."

Notwithstanding all of Lou’s accomplishments, success and recognition, it was the love of Lou’s family which fulfilled him most. He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife Nina and his children: Aiden, Kendra, Lou Jr. and Louanna as well as his grandchildren: Louis, Chayiel, Jonathon and Katrina.

In the end as he was in life and always will be, Lou was Cool!

To Visit Lou Rawls website CLICK HERE

In this era of disposable popular music and “flavor of the month” idols, there remain few artists who truly study their craft, sing songs with style and substance, and strive to create a significant body
of work that stands the test of time. Victor is one such artist. With four CDs to his credit—Victor—called the man with the golden voice by the legendary Lou Rawls, has demonstrated his incredible gifts and range
as an artist.

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Victor Field’s love for music was cultivated and shaped by his mother, a singer and a Julliard- trained pianist. After attending Bowdoin College, Victor moved to the San Francisco/Bay Area where he built a successful business and began studying voice and songwriting to perfect his craft and to pursue his life-long love of singing and performing.

In 1997, a mutual friend introduced Victor to the Grammy- nominated producer/songwriter, Kashif (Kenny G, George Benson, Whitney Houston), which led to their collaboration on his debut album, Promise (1998). Released on Victor’s independent label, Regina Records, the CD gained impressive reviews and a strong cult following.

In 2002, Victor followed with the disc, 52nd Street, produced by famed guitarist, Chris Camozzi (Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton). The CD, with featured guests Chris Botti, Jeff Lorber, Nelson Braxton and Gerald Albright, received critical acclaim and landed at
#12 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart.

In 2005, Fields and Camozzi once again collaborated on the Victor CD. A collection of contemporary interpretations of jazz standards and compositions by celebrated
songwriters Diane Warren, Stevie Wonder, Vince Gill and Chuck Loeb, the disc also highlighted Victor’s mastery of a wide offering of musical styles ranging from contemporary jazz, R&B and adult pop to even theatrical Broadway-esque tunes. With his latest release, Thinking of You, Victor once again showcases his gifts as a song master in action featuring smooth jazz stars Richard Elliot, Jeff Lorber, and Rick Braun. The first two singles are receiving international radio airplay and placed in the top 10 on the
Indie Smooth Jazz and in the top 30 on the Urban AC Radio and Records Charts.

These achievements, along with his sold-out performance at Manhattan’s Sugar Bar and rave reviews after opening for soul legend Isaac Hayes at the Capital Jazz Festival, are recent examples of why Victor Fields won’t be considered one of the music industry’s best kept secrets much longer.

To Visit Victor Fields website CLICK HERE