Matt Dennis

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Matt Dennis
Matt Dennis photo.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMatthew Loveland Dennis
Born(1914-02-11)February 11, 1914
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
DiedJune 21, 2002(2002-06-21) (aged 88)
Riverside, California
Genres Popular music
Occupation(s)Singer, composer
Labels Capitol

Matthew Loveland Dennis (February 11, 1914 – June 21, 2002) was an American singer, pianist, band leader, arranger, and writer of music for popular music songs.



Dennis was born in Seattle, Washington, United States. His mother was a violinist and his father a singer, and the family was in vaudeville, so he was early exposed to music. In 1933 he joined Horace Heidt's orchestra as a vocalist and pianist. Later on, he formed his own band, with Dick Haymes as vocalist. He became vocal coach, arranger, and accompanist for Martha Tilton, and worked with a new vocal group, The Stafford Sisters. Jo Stafford, one of the sisters, joined the Tommy Dorsey band in 1940 and persuaded Dorsey to hire Dennis as arranger and composer. Dennis wrote prolifically, with 14 of his songs recorded by the Dorsey band in one year alone, including "Everything Happens to Me", an early hit for Frank Sinatra. [1]

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

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Horace Heidt American musician

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Dick Haymes actor and singer

Richard Benjamin Haymes, known as Dick Haymes, was an Argentinean-born actor and singer, active in the United States. He was one of the most popular male vocalists of the 1940s and early 1950s. He was the older brother of Bob Haymes who was an actor, television host, and songwriter.

After four years in the United States Air Force in World War II, Dennis returned to music writing and arranging, getting a boost from his old friend Dick Haymes, who hired him to be the music director for his radio program. With lyricist Tom Adair he wrote songs for Haymes' program.

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Lyrics are words that make up a song usually consisting of verses and choruses. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist. The words to an extended musical composition such as an opera are, however, usually known as a "libretto" and their writer, as a "librettist". The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. Rappers can also create lyrics that are meant to be spoken rhythmically rather than sung.

Dennis made six albums, which were out of print for many years; however, his 1953 song "Angel Eyes" (with lyricist Earl Brent) has become a frequently recorded jazz standard; less frequently recorded, but notably by Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins is "Will You Still Be Mine". Pianist Dave Brubeck and his quartet recorded an entire album of Dennis's compositions, released as Angel Eyes in 1965. [2]

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In 2012, Jasmine Records re-released four of Dennis' records as "Welcome Matt". The collection included "Plays and Sings Matt Dennis", a 1958 live performance by Dennis' piano trio, of twelve tunes that Dennis had co-authored. [3]

Jasmine Records is a London-based record label that specialises in jazz reissues.

Dennis died in Riverside, California at the age of 88. [4]

Songs with music by Matt Dennis

"Everything Happens to Me" (1940) is a pop standard written by Tom Adair (lyrics) and Matt Dennis (music). It was first recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra. Unusually, the song focused on Sinatra's vocal, with no trombone solo by Dorsey. Years later, Sinatra rerecorded the song with the Hollywood String Quartet; this version was featured on his 1957 album Close to You.

"Let's Get Away from It All" is a popular song with music by Matt Dennis and lyrics by Tom Adair, published in 1941.

"The Night We Called It a Day" is a popular song and jazz standard. The music was written by Matt Dennis, the lyrics by Tom Adair. The song was published in 1941.

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  1. "Matt Dennis, 88, Big Band-Era Songwriter". The New York Times . July 24, 2002.
  2. Angel Eyes at AllMusic
  3. Welcome Matt – Four Complete Albums Including His Popular Hits
  4. McLellan, Dennis (June 29, 2002). "Matt Dennis, 88; Singer, Pianist Wrote 'Angel Eyes,' Other Hits". Los Angeles Times .