Smooth sounds of jazz singer Cleo Laine

September 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you're looking for a night out listening to the sounds of some great jazz, look no further than the Rrazz Room in San Francisco this week, as it features fabulous British jazz legend Dame Cleo Laine and her husband saxophonist Sir John Dankworth.

About Cleo Laine:
Cleo Laine is the only singer ever to receive Grammy nominations in the Female Jazz, Popular, and Classical categories. Born in a London suburb, Cleo showed early singing talent, nurtured by her Jamaican father and English mother. In her 20's, she auditioned for a band led by musician John Dankworth, under whose banner she performed until 1958, when the two were married. She appeared in plays and musicals in London and on Broadway and originated the role of Princess Puffer in the Broadway hit musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," for which she received a Tony nomination. She also recorded many hit albums. Cleo Laine's continued activity in jazz performance guarantees her role as "the first lady of jazz." It is unlikely that there is a British musician better known for a wider range of musical activities. For many years now his name has been synonymous with the crossing of musical barriers. Indeed he started achieving quite surprising musical breakthroughs of this sort at a time when such events were rare occurrences.

Born in 1927, John Dankworth showed early proficiency on the clarinet and by the age of 17 had entered London's Royal Academy of Music. Benny Goodman was his first idol, but he soon became impressed by the work of the great Charlie Parker, and took up the saxophone as a result. He was voted Musician of the Year in Britain in 1949, the beginning of a succession of such honours, which included top composer, arranger and leader of both small and big bands, and was to continue unabated for the next fourteen years in Britain. Later the accolades took on different and often more international forms. During this period Dankworth's recording activities included two hit records, "Experiments with Mice" (1956) and "African Waltz" (1960). In 1959 Dankworth's large jazz orchestra played several engagements in the United States, the first of countless such visits by its leader. The trip included a week-long concert season sharing the bill with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in its heyday. In 1985 Dankworth founded the London Symphony Orchestra's Summer Pops, with which he continued to be associated as Artistic Director until 1990. He has continued to conduct symphony orchestras throughout the world, including the majority of the great American and Canadian organisations, as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Holland and, of course, Great Britain. John Dankworth continues to travel the world playing, conducting, composing - and continuing his untiring search for musical perfection.

WHO: Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept 22-Oct 4, 8 PM, Sundays at 7 PM

WHERE: The Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 220 Mason St., SF

TICKETS: $50-$65

PHONE: 866-468-3399 or www.therrazzroom.com

Cleo Laine's jazz credentials include:

  • her appearances at the world-famous Newport festival and many other such events all over the world
  • her frequent seasons at New York's Blue Note Club
  • her numerous recordings of the jazz repertoire - Ellington, Monk, Strayhorn, Mulligan and many more
  • her duet albums with Ray Charles and Mel Tormé
  • her own recordings with famous jazzmen as guests - George Shearing, Mark Whitfield, Joe Williams, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler, Clark Terry and others

www.quarternotes.com


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